Yes, E-cigarettes Are A Low Risk Alternative To Smoking
E-cigarettes are battery-driven products that vaporize an e-liquid which consists of a combination of water, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, natural and/or artificial flavorings.
They are activated either when the user inhales through the mouth-piece (in the case of cig-a-likes), or when the user presses a button (in the case of most mods). This begins the delivery of a small dosage of nicotine without having any of the carcinogens produced through the burning of tobacco like in traditional cigarette smoke.
To date, the vast majority of e-cigarette devices are manufactured in China. There are however an incredibly wide variety of e-liquids manufactured by a multitude of brands from all over the world and in nearly every country where e-cigarettes are not banned (and maybe even in some where they are).
An appellate court established that e-cigarettes were to be regulated by the FDA as tobacco products in 2011, which has been a blessing and a curse for American smokers and for public health depending on who you ask.
The final decision assured that e-cigarettes – which have aided many smokers to stop smoking – will remain on the market in some form. Although, in what form they will stay on the market still remains to be seen, as the deeming regulations put in place on August 8th 2016 have already damaged many businesses and put a choke on the industry as a whole.
“general controls, such as registration, product listing, ingredient listing, good manufacturing practice requirements, user fees for certain products, and the adulteration and misbranding provisions, as well as to the premarket review requirements for ‘new tobacco products’ and ‘modified risk tobacco products.”
These prerequisites will encourage the marketing and advertising of products to be of a higher quality.
But what does the scientific community think?
Many clinical and laboratory studies have been conducted so far, and we’re pleased to say, most confirm that e-cigarettes are an effective and safe smoking cessation tool.
One review published by Public Health England stated that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco.
Traditional cigarette smoke contains up to (and sometimes over) 4,000 chemicals in addition to the desired nicotine, while e-cigarettes produce a vapor comprised only of a handful of chemicals to deliver nicotine with far less risk to your health.
In contrast to tobacco cigarettes, the ingredients in e-cigarettes do not pose any significant health risks, and while nicotine is tremendously addictive, it is not the principal cause of any of the illnesses related to smoking tobacco.
Propylene glycol – which many have tried to use to scare people away from e-cigarettes – is actually permitted by the FDA for usage in a significant number of consumer goods, and has not been associated with any kind of adverse health effects, although presently there are no studies centered around exposure on a daily basis over long periods of time.
People love pointing out that propylene glycol has been used in anti-freeze. To them I say two things:
- So is water.
- I believe you’re probably thinking of ethylene glycol, which was known for being quite toxic and has gradually been replaced in anti-freeze by propylene glycol for safety reasons due to its lower toxicity.
In spite of the comparative safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes, tobacco control activists have been aggressively attacking them since the very start. Dr. Jack Henningfield, who is a scientific adviser on tobacco to the World Health Organization, as well as an adviser to Glaxosmith Kline on pharmaceutical nicotine, called e-cigarettes “renegade products,” for which “we have no scientific information.”
He then went on to say that e-cigarettes “are not benign” despite the fact that he offered no explanation or justification for this stance in his article as to how or why he came to that aggressive conclusion in the absence of any scientific information, as there have not been as many scientific studies at all on this new area as there have been in many other industries, and this is due to e-cigarettes being much younger.
Studies that have dealt with how the nicotine in e-cigarettes is consumed propose that it is mostly taken up by the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, and that this can be achieved by shallow puffing rather than deep inhalation of the vapor.
An equally important study has found that despite the fact that e-cigarette devices produce only modest elevations in the peak blood levels of nicotine (much lower than that produced by traditional tobacco cigarettes) consumers encountered diminished cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
It has been theorized that this is due to the fact that e-cigarettes are successfully mimicking the hand-to-mouth ritual aspect of traditional smoking, which pharmaceutical nicotine products have failed to address.
Those opposed to e-cigarettes frequently target their safety, commonly with baseless and easily disproven arguments. Although laboratory studies have indeed detected trace levels of some contaminants in some e-cigarettes, this appears to be a small problem that could be solved with enhancements to quality and manufacturing that will come with FDA regulation and a maturing industry.
Unfortunately, much of the media attention surrounding e-cigarettes relates to a study published by the FDA in 2009 that stated that its lab tests of e-cigarettes “indicated that these products contained detectable levels of known carcinogens.” However, this study was flawed and not an accurate indicator of the safety of e-cigarettes.
The FDA only examined a tiny sample size of pre-filled e-cigarette cartridges and did not carry out the testing in a systematic and scientific manner. All in all, the agency ended up carrying out tests on only ten cartridges, from only two different suppliers. It would certainly be problematic to conclude anything at all from such a small sample of products.
To confuse matters further, the FDA tested e-cigarettes for cancer causing carcinogens known as tobacco specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs), but they failed to report the concentrations they observed. Rather, the agency simply reported that TSNAs were either “detected” or “not detected,” which is uninformative.
Many other tobacco products, including smoking cessation aids such as nicotine medications, have TSNA levels in the single-digit parts per million range, a level at which there is no scientific evidence that they are hazardous. What’s more, the FDA tested for TSNAs using a procedure that picks up TSNAs at about one million times lower concentrations than could conceivably be relevant to human health.
Basically, the FDA kind of tested a few e-cigarettes for TSNAs using a very suspicious sampling program and used methods that were so hypersensitive that the results are extremely unlikely to have virtually any feasible significance to users.
Thus far, lab analysis indicates that e-cigarettes do not in fact contain harmful levels of carcinogens.