Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

Are E-cigarettes safe? Well, let’s get this out of the way up front. No matter how you put nicotine into your lungs, bloodstream and the rest of your body, it is unhealthy.  Nicotine is a stimulant, which makes you feel alert, or awake; this comes at the unfortunate cost of addiction as well as increased blood pressure and a multitude of other circulatory issues.  Once addicted, not having nicotine will cause withdrawal, with a down-regulation of the production of dopamine and other stimulatory neurotransmitters as the brain attempts to compensate for the lack of artificial simulation.  Since the general idea of e-cigs is to get nicotine into your body… no, E-Cigs are not safe.  Using them will cause you at least some harm, and that is exactly why the age limit required to get them is 18.  If you are an adult, you can make the informed choice.

Electronic cigarettes, however, would seem to let you avoid many of the health issues linked to traditional cigarettes.  When you smoke a cigarette, you are not only getting the nicotine, but also all the harmful carcinogens and toxins that go along with smoking tobacco, as well as the paper the tobacco is held in and the hundreds of additives that are in cigarettes.  Inhaling smoke from a burning cigarette causes absorption of all of those substances through the alveoli in your lungs, causing damage to your lungs.  If you’re not inhaling burning paper, tobacco, and chemical additives – many people would call that a vast improvement over the health risks of smoking.  Does that mean that e-cigarettes are “safe?” Read on.

There is actually a great deal of controversy over whether or not electronic cigarettes are as safe as some people claim them to be.  This is because there are no conclusive studies proving or disproving health risks from e-cigs.  Several studies regarding long-term health effects from nicotine vapor, both inhaled and second-hand are currently in progress; an entire industry as well as government regulators are waiting eagerly for the results.

In 2010, the American Association of Public Health Physicians declared its support of electronic cigarette sales to adults, saying “the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next 20 years.”  In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration tested various electronic cigarettes, and found diethylene glycol in one of the cartridges, in addition to cancer-causing agents.  They also found that actual nicotine levels did not always correspond to the amount of nicotine claimed by the manufacturer. Eventually, the FDA issued a statement discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes; the Electronic Cigarette Association responded, claimed that the testing was “too narrow to reach any valid and reliable conclusions.” At this point, the facts remain somewhat clouded.

The US isn’t the only country which is asking “are e-cigarettes safe?” The European Union has many restrictions on electronic cigarettes; in Brazil and Singapore, electronic smoking products are banned outright. Even in Canada, importing, selling, and advertising electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is banned.  Non-nicotine e-cigs in Canada are allowed, however Health Canada advises consumers against them.

It took many, many years for the health picture surrounding traditional cigarettes to be sorted out completely. There seems little doubt that it will take many more for clarification on some of the questions surrounding e-cigarettes. However, it’s also clear that people who are going to be inhaling something – are probably better off not inhaling the product of burning tobacco, paper and additives.