Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?
The answer is simply put like this, with over 4000 less chemicals than your typical traditional cigarette, electronic cigarettes use e-liquid, the liquid is made generally from only 5 ingredients. Primary a water based nicotine solution the ingredients include nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and flavoring.
Some brands slightly differ, one leading British electronic cigarette brand/company called Intellicig who manufacturer their own e-liquid called ECOpure use only 4 ingredients; ethyl maltol, glycerol, deionised water and nicotine and are often rated as having the cleanest e-liquid on the market.
As electronic cigarettes have only been in existence commercially for less than 10 years there is not enough evidence out there on the long term health risks of using electronic cigarettes. What is universal on opinion is that electronic cigarettes compared to regular cigarettes are generally regarded as a safer alternative to smoking for those people unable or unwilling to stop. First e cigarettes do not contain tobacco only nicotine which is highly addictive but less dangerous.
Below is a brief description on each ingredient used in E-liquid:
* Nicotine is a nitrogen containing chemical – an alkaloid (a naturally occurring compound) which is made from several different plants including the tobacco plant. Nicotine is highly addictive and is both a sedative and stimulant.
* Glycerol is a simple polyol (sugar alcohol) which is colorless, odorless liquid which is sweet tasting and of low toxicity. It is used for formulations as it works well to bind a number of elements together. Glycerol is used in many products such as mouthwashes, cough syrups, as a thickening agent in liqueurs and skin care products.
* Deionised Water is water that has had most of its mineral irons removed such as sodium, calcium, iron, copper, chloride and sulfate. The process produces a high purity water that is generally similar to distilled water.
* Ethyl Maltol is a organic compound which is a common flavorant used in the food, tobacco, confectionery,beverage and fragrance industry. It is a white chemical solid with a sweet smell.
* Propylene Glycol is a organic compound which is colorless, clear, faintly sweet taste and able to attract and hold water molecules. Propylene Glycol is considered generally recognized as safe by the U.S Food and Drug Administration and is used as a solvent and preservative in food and tobacco products.
“The industry as a whole has become more aware of the need to be open and transparent with what goes into e-liquid. The industry is becoming more and more regulated and brands and companies are finding that in order to grow and be the number one choice for consumers they need to make sure that the ingredient in a electronic cigarette is safe.”
Electronic Cigarette Health Risks
Currently there has not been enough research or long term studies in this field. In order to have valid clinical data a large group of e cigarette smokers would need to be followed for several years and the issue with that is most people are using electronic cigarettes as a tool to give up smoking and may only use the product for a short period of time.
A study in 1996 before e cigarettes were on the market found that in rats that after inhaling nicotine for two years there were no harmful effects.