Are E-Cigarettes Safe?
Electronic cigarettes, often called e-cigarettes or vapes, are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid, turning it into a vapor which is inhaled. The use e-cigarettes, known as vaping, is rapidly growing in popularity.
The concept behind e-cigarettes is clever: they allege to offer all the fun of typical cigarettes without any of the dangers of smoking. E-cig devices use a small, heated coil to vaporize a nicotine-laced solution into an aerosol mist. By inhaling the mist, users enjoy the same satisfaction they would get from an ordinary cigarette but do not expose themselves to tobacco, which turns into cancer-causing tar when it is burned.
Vaping devices also free smokers from huddling in the cold or rain and, in many places, from ordinances that forbid smoking in public places.
Electronic cigarettes come in a variety of designs. Some are sold with filled cartridges, while others allow users can add solutions purchased separately. These solutions typically contain vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol as the main ingredients, with varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings and other additives.
Are E-Cigarettes Safe?
No one knows for sure.
Because e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, most experts agree they’re likely to cause fewer harmful effects than smoking traditional cigarettes. Most e-cigarette manufacturers claim that their products are a safe alternative to conventional smoking.
But there is no scientific evidence that using e-cigarettes is safe.
Here’s what we do know: Nicotine is addictive. That’s one reason many public health experts are alarmed by the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes. Among their concerns, vaping may lure former smokers back to smoking, or become a gateway to smoking for teens who might experiment beyond tobacco products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has questioned the safety of these products.
- Researchers have found that some e-cigarettes have nicotine amounts that are very different from what’s on the label.
- The long-term health effects of inhaling vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and other additives are not known.
- In addition, some flavoring agents and other additives have been shown to be toxic.
The FDA and many health care organizations, including the American Heart Association, have issued warnings about the health risks of e-cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes, Teens and Pre-teens
As science struggle to test the safety of e-cigarettes, the devices and the practice of vaping are becoming more and more popular among teens and preteens. E-cigarette use among U.S. high school students more than doubled from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Tobacco Survey. At least 160,000 students who had never tried conventional cigarettes puffed on e-cigs.
Years ago, the government ended television advertising of tobacco products aimed at underage consumers. Consider this—e-cigarette solutions are marketed in kid-friendly flavors including chocolate, bubble gum and gummy bear. Sold online and in kiosks in malls, e-cigarettes and vaping liquids are easy for minors to acquire.
Will E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Smoking?
Probably not. Studies on whether vaping can help someone stop using tobacco are inconsistent. At best, e-cigs are no more effective than other nicotine replacement products. Because of the unresolved safety concerns and because the research on e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking aid is inconclusive, Mayo Clinic does not recommend e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking.
If you want to quit smoking, there are several FDA-approved medications that have been shown to be safe and effective. The combination of medication and counseling has been shown to work best.
Let Us Help
Sorting all this out, knowing who to trust, can be confusing. We can help answer your questions about e-cigarettes, stopping smoking, and the underlying issues of substance use and addiction.
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric specialists, all administering care from a Christian worldview and perspective, will provide you with the long-lasting tools and knowledge you need to find freedom.