Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Health Effects:
E-cigs have not yet been regulated and the long term health effects from vaping electronic cigarettes are unknown and uncertain for the moment. Also, assorted brands and e-liquids bring a substantial variation due to different ingredients. As the use of e-cigarettes has only become widespread during the last decade, the long term health effects from vaping are not yet certain. Moreover, their use has brought on scene conflicts of interest.
On one hand, the e-cigarette is deemed to be successful because of studies showing it can significantly contributes in quitting smoking. On the other hand, there are various parties who have huge interests on the progress of the e-cigarette being impeded; obviously, the one of those parties is the tobacco industry, but it can also be government: On one standpoint the government is spending millions on fighting the diseases brought by cigarettes. On another standpoint though, it’s earning millions from the taxation of cigarettes.
Most studies up to date have shown that e-cigarettes are much safer to use than cigarettes. Still though, are they deemed safe on their own? And who should be using the e-cigarettes?
Choose Your Electronic Device Wisely
Below we will give you as much information as possible regarding e-cigarettes. Still though, it is important that you are cautious when buying e-cigarettes. Always buy from the best and most well-known and trusted brands and only buy products with clear listing of ingredients.
Most e-cigarettes are being produced in China and the Chinese market is not regulated. It is also uncertain whether the ingredients listed are really the ingredients used (or if there could be more ingredients that are not shown). There are cases where ‘nicotine-free’ labelled e-cigarettes were not nicotine free. Again, only buy from the best and most well-known brands. Make your own research and read other peoples’ reviews before you try.
Who is the E-cigarette For
E-cigarettes are deemed much safer than traditional cigarettes, but, if you are an ex- smoker or if you have never smoked, we would not suggest that you start vaping. Also, never allow adolescents or kids to come in contact with e-cigarettes and bottles of e-liquids. Apart from potential health risks, there are significant safety issues that deem them suitable for use only by adults. Electronic cigarettes are suitable for anyone who wants to switch from smoking to vaping and gradually reduce the nicotine levels he uses. Vaping does not guarantee that you will quit smoking but it gives you the chance to switch to a ‘healthier’ habit and eventually quit smoking.
Smoking VS Vaping
As stated before, there are various significant reviews on E-Cigs that conclude that ‘E-Cigs are probably much safer than cigarettes’. In 2015, an independent review of the Public Health England (PHE) concluded that e-cigarettes are possibly around 95% less harmful than cigarettes. On its comprehensive review, it also concluded that e-cigs only carry a fraction of the risk of smoking. Also, there is no doubt that the e-cigarette aerosol contains far lesser amount of carcinogens and chemicals than the smoke of tobacco.
Still though, it seems that nearly half the British population still think that e-cigs are almost as harmful as regular cigarettes. This might be keeping millions of people from switching to vaping. The exact percentage of health inequalities caused by smoking and vaping has yet to be found. When this happens, e-cigarettes might be a significant route for smokers in adopting a ‘healthier’ habit and eventually quitting smoking. Even if e-cigarettes have some risks compared to smoking, a lot of studies show that vaping is around 90%-95% less harmful than smoking.
Long Term Vaping Health Effects
As mentioned earlier in this article, there is lack of sufficient information and studies on the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. More research during the next years has to be done, as the e-cigarette vaping is a relatively new field.
Ingredients Contained in Electronic Cigarettes
In order to discuss about the health effects of e-cigarettes, we need to know what the e-liquids consist of. The basic substances contained in them are the following:
- Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol and glycerin: As far as propylene glycol and glycerine, which are the primary ingredients of the e-liquid, are concerned there is still insufficient information regarding them being inhaled for a long period of time. The propylene glycol is generally safe to consumers but at very high concentrations it is thought it might contribute to respiratory disease. This is why many companies choose instead to use glycerin as a primary ingredient.
Nicotine: As far as nicotine is concerned, it has already been stated that nicotine is a well-known addictive substance. Still though, how much nicotine is contained in an e-cigarette? As e-cigarettes are not regulated yet, it is impossible to be sure about this. Even if an e-cigarette is supposed to be nicotine free, there have been situations that it was not. Our advice is to buy only from well-known brands that have been on the market for quite a long time and always buy e-cigs that list their ingredients.
If you intend to use an electronic cigarette to help you quit smoking, you can use e-cigs that are nicotine free, or you can start with a higher level of nicotine and then gradually reduce its concentration up to the point of zero nicotine.
E-cigs may have concentrated nicotine e-liquid levels which could be delivered at almost the same levels as cigarettes. The new generation of e-cigs have enhanced features like the adjustable battery voltage. Therefore, the user might prefer to adjust to a higher voltage as it delivers a higher amount of vapour. If you choose a variable voltage – wattage device and you set it to a high voltage setup you can lower the nicotine level of your e-liquid and the feeling you get on your throat and chest will still be the same, only you will inhale less nicotine!!
Flavouring: As far as flavouring is concerned, this could consist of natural or artificial substances. They could be dangerous for the health in some cases, but their toxicity is still not known when being inhaled. It is important that the e-cig companies follow strict quality standards, as the origin and kind of ingredients used for the e-liquid might significantly differ depending on different practices.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde and some other aldehydes are organic compounds which can be found in e-cigarette aerosols, when the liquid is heated in the vaporizer in high temperatures. These substances have been characterized as potentially carcinogenic by the International Research Institute for cancer. The greatest amount of these substances is found when the e-liquid contains the substance ‘propylene glycol’. Also, the new generation of e-cigs, the so called Mods, give to the user the option to control the amount of vapour produced, by adjusting the battery voltage. Higher battery voltage has been found to produce much higher levels of these toxic substances. Therefore, it is important to use Mods only when experienced and only with a reduced level of voltage. A normal use produces significantly lower levels of aldehydes than traditional cigarettes.
Toxic Metals Emissions and Second-Hand Vapour: E-cigarettes have been found to produce much lesser quantities of carcinogenous ‘second-hand’ smoke. This is due to the fact that e-cigarettes produce vapour instead of burning organic material, which is what traditional cigarettes do.
Still though, levels of other toxic elements such as chromium (which is not found in cigarettes), nickel (4-fold higher than cigarettes), zinc and lead (the latter two in much lesser concentrations than in cigarettes) are found. There is a great possibility that these metal particles come from the e-cigarette devices themselves. Due to the lack of regulation and thus, lack of quality standards, as well as due to the fact that most e-cigarette cartridges are constructed in China, which in any case would not be regulated by the same standards as Europe and U.S., it is obvious that the quality of these devices may be questionable.
Therefore, our advice once again is to use only well known brands that have been established in the market and tested for quite a long time. Furthermore, do not use high battery voltage as it will heat the device in higher temperatures. Also, we suggest you substitute the metal parts of the device once in a while and never subject them to high heat.
Vaping Health Effects
A 2014 review from Cochrane Collaboration, an independent NGO consisting of 37,000 volunteers in different countries, found no serious effects stemming from the use of e-cigarettes. As the long term effects are not yet known, the most serious short term health effects are the following: cough, sore throat, dry mouth, spitting, vomiting, nausea, increased blood pressure and heart rate. Other effects could be headache, dizziness, insomnia, eye dryness, nervousness, chest pain.
Still though, these effects are of a much lesser degree than the one experienced by regular cigarette smokers. Also, if e-cigarettes are used as a substitute to smoking and their use is also gradually reduced, those adverse effects, which might be created either from the nicotine or toxic substances in the aerosol, might be significantly reduced.
Electronic Cigarette Facts
Do not forget that the e-cig safety is still not confirmed, as it has been stated by the ‘World Health Organization’ report in 2009, therefore always do your own research and be cautious. Furthermore, as research is still inadequate, we still do not know the long term effects of the ingredients of e-cigs when vaping.
Furthermore, what is yet to be studied is, if the e-cigs can cause adolescents and young people to start vaping (without being a smoker), because they are considered to be safer than cigarettes. Advise young people to stay away from e-cigs and explain that the e-cigarettes are meant as a means of quitting smoking, until the ex-smoker can give up nicotine completely.
Finally, it is not possible to state yet, if the chemicals contained in the vapour and the nicotine of the e-cigs might be carcinogenic. As said before, the toxic substances contained in the e-cigs are much lesser than in cigarettes, still though, they are not totally safe. The risk, though, is significantly lesser than when smoking. Also, although it has been established that the cigarette smoke, as tobacco gets burned, is carcinogenic, it has not yet been established yet whether the vapour of e-cigs is carcinogenic.
Therefore, it is important that the e-cig companies start making information available, regarding their ingredients, so that consumers really know and decide for themselves what their options are.
Summing up, more systematic research has to be conducted on the health effects from vaping electronic cigarettes. Also, regulation will bring substantial protection for consumers. Apart from these steps which have to be made, studies have shown that e-cigarettes are about 95% more safe than cigarettes.