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Are e-Cigarettes Safer Than Real Cigarettes?

The burning debate continues about the safety of electronic cigarettes, popularly called e-cigarettes. The big question is: are they a safer substitute to real cigarettes?

The major difference between the two types is pretty straightforward. A conventional cigarette burns tobacco whereas the e-cigarette uses a battery-propelled heat to vaporise odourless propylene glycol or varying amounts of nicotine contained in a cartridge. The vapour is then inhaled by a user, without involving any real smoke.

Mired in controversies

Invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003, e-cigarettes were introduced to the market a couple of years later, sparking one controversy after another. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had threatened to ban their sale and almost half-a-dozen anti-smoking groups have vehemently opposed them. The main concern being its safety and the way it’s being marketed towards children and teenagers.

Lobbyists representing tobacco companies have urged the FDA to take serious action against e-cigarettes manufacturers and ban their sale, fearing a threat to their profits.

Nicotine in a liquid form can be dangerous, especially if it comes in contact with the skin. And there are some uncertainties about the long term use of propylene glycol too.

Since their inception into the global market, regulators have urged the e-cigarette manufacturers to re-evaluate their safety measures. They fear that not much research has been undertaken to know what chemicals or toxins are generated in the vapours from e-cigarettes.

Scientists have expressed their doubts about lack of health warnings on the package and environmentalists are concerned that not enough precaution is being taken to dispose of e-cigarettes and its accessories, which could pose an environmental risk of nicotine contamination.

Marketing Concerns

It’s the marketing of e-cigarettes that has faced a lot of heat. Experts have raised serious concerns that could increase nicotine addiction amongst younger generation and could potentially lure kids to try tobacco-related products.

Anti-tobacco aficionados argue that e-cigarettes may prompt adolescents to give it a try for the first time, as they come in luring flavours such almond, cherry, chocolate and fruit. The fact that they are shaped and look like a normal cigarette, promotes the social appeal of smoking. As they can be purchased online, it is deemed to be misused by the minors.

Banned in several countries

In 2010 the Tobacco Regulation raised several warnings about e-cigarettes. Countries such as Canada, Brazil, Thailand, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have banned e-cigarettes.

However, in United Kingdom the sale and use of e-cigarettes is legal.

FDA’s perspective

Although FDA has not fully assessed e-cigarettes for safety or its usefulness, but having conducted laboratory studies of certain samples, it has found that quality control processes used to manufacture are inadequate. The FDA has also found irregularities in e-cigarette cartridges that confuse the user with regard to the amount of nicotine contained in it.

However, at end of 2010 FDA formally regulated e-cigarettes on the premise that they are marketed as both a drug and a drug-delivery device.

A professor from Boston University identified the contents in e-cigarette liquid and vapours and found that the carcinogen levels in e-cigarettes are up to 1000 times lower than in conventional cigarettes.

Top e-cigarette brands have started using warning labels as their products do contain nicotine.

Acts as a weaning device

E-cigarette manufacturers have suggested that many regular smokers have found ways of reducing or quitting their smoking habit after trying e-cigarettes. And the varying levels of nicotine acts a weaning device too. It is claimed to be clearly healthier when compared to the number of chemicals present in tobacco smoke.

University of East London carried out a research and concluded that e-cigarettes can be useful in reducing nicotine-related withdrawal symptoms temporarily.

Although we still are not completely sure about the safety of e-cigarettes but we certainly know the harmful effects of regular smoking.



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This post was written by on Saturday, March 19, 2011. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 4979996 total posts views.


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22 comments

  1. Quite informative article. Good intro to something I knew nothing

  2. I have smoked e-cigarettes…to be honest they look like real cigs but don’t have the same sensation as smoking a real one. Perhaps it’s a psychological thing I don’t know.

  3. Man, I smoked for 20 years, then tried the e cig V2 and quit in a month. I tried to quit several several times in 20 years and couldnt. These lobbiest bastards and fda are just worried about making money no matter who it kills. I cant believe they would make ecigs illegal and not real cigs! That is just mind blowing to me! How is that even justifiable.That just goes to show how much these cig manufactureres care about people like us, and the fda also. Next thing you know vaccinations are going to be almost mandatory and scare us to death so we get what ever chemical they want to shove in us.. ohh wait they already have!

  4. After smoking a pack a day for over 20 years, I was able to quit immediately by turning to e-cigs … and I feel great. Smoking addiction is NOT just about nicotine addiction … otherwise the nicotine patches, gums etc. would be far more effective than they are … by the drug companies own numbers they have a 90% or greater FAILURE rate. By simulating the full smoking act … the inhale, the throat hit, the nicotine, and the visible exhale e cigs are a revolutionary way to quit smoking … evidence indicates SUCCESS rates in quitting tobacco smoking using e-cigs could be over 70%. Problem is, these numbers scare the hell out of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, disrupting the nice little circle jerk they’ve had going for many years … smoke a bunch, try to quit, fail, return to smoking, and repeat. I would mention that Gov’t has its hand (and pocket) in this cozy arrangement as well.

  5. Been using for about a week now and after 20 years of analogs I find this to be a great alternative. I need that smoke. I grew up with nicotine my whole life and to go cold turkey just results in a binge. I would much rather inhale 5 to 10 chemicals rather than 4000.

  6. Black and white to me. Looks as though someone is getting a bit worried about their profits…..the traditional cigarette companies. LOL. Figures. And seriously…..they should be scared. They have had a monopoly on the nicotine addicted population for decades. Enough already…..make your own electronic cigarettes that aren’t death on a stick and get over it.
    Been on blu’s for about a week….kicking myself wondering why I didn’t try this before.

  7. I’m a chemist, and would like to approach this matter scientifically. The process of burning tobacco produces 1,000s of compounds, many of which are complex hydrocarbons known to bind to DNA and therefore increase the chances of a bad mutation (cancer). Heat-assisted vaporization of propylene glycol may create 10′s of compounds, but I would rather inhale them than the tobacco. Yes, it’s true, propylene glycol is antifreze, so you are technically inhaling burning antifreeze, but that’s exactly what stage smoke machines use – so the concept is not new. I’ve been using these for a week, and even though the sensation is different, the whole aspect of oral fixation is defnitely well addresses, and appears to work better than any gum, patch, or inhaler. Having said that, I can honestly say that I tried several brands and found FIN brand to be the best – and the funniest thing is, I bought it at a local Valero gas station as a temp replacement to my other e-cig that ran out of juice.

  8. I wish the article could have given a solid yes or no answer… =/

  9. I cut back alot with e cigs, now I’m smoking e cigs with no nicotine.

  10. Yes, they do make e cigs with zero nicotine. I also quit coffee, I would drink cup after cup to kill the lousy smoke taste in my mouth. That’s why coffee or beer and regular cigarettes go together. Now just a bottle of water will do.

  11. Someone posted “propylene glycol is antifreze” This is not true… ” ethylene glycol” is Antifreeze…

  12. People love to bitch about smokers and the government loves to pretend that they care about the health of the human population. The truth of the matter is, if all smokers were to quit today the amount of tax dollars lost at both the local and national levels would be astounding. A lot of those tax dollars go to schools and social programs. The bitchers whould be begging us to go back to smoking and the government will do anything to insure that those tax dollars keep rolling in including banning our e-cigs. My husband and I have been smoke free for a week now thanks to e-cigs and we have no intention of going back to cigarettes. I think we will stock up on our juice :-)

  13. im 21 been smokin since i was 13 my mother and i tried quittin numerous times nothing worked. used the highest level nicotine then worked down to a zero. been smoke free for 3 months now and have no urge to smoke cigarettes or e cig. this is just proof of our governments stupidity. politics is just another business in it for money.

  14. I’ve been using an e cigarette for the past week. I haven’t touched a real cigarette sncr. Ithink hey are n awesome way to quit smoking. Big tobacco companies n teo FDA don’t want people t quit.They at our money and want us to get sick from cigarette related ailments.

  15. Doc said I had to quit smoking for 24 hrs for some test, after smoking for 40 yrs I bought an ecig with clearomizer for the juice…that was 3 months ago and have not had a desire for a real cigarette since and I just gave myself a 200 dollar a month raise by quitting….great stuff.

  16. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a
    collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a outstanding job!

  17. I bought one and have decided to look into its effects I want to quit smoking due to my athsma issues and I think smoking is a HORRIBLE habbit I have a 9 month old daughter and want to quit so she does not pick up on it. My husband smokes as well and I want him to try this with me we both dont want to smoke anymore. I hope this thing works because The money it costs me is hurting my pocket big time. I like the fact that it has a lot less chemicals and i dont smell like smoke I hate this addiction its just gross.

  18. I am 26 and have been smoking for 13 years.  I was one of the smokers who described smoking as a ‘part of me’ and I did not immediately imagine quitting.  My fiance, also a smoker fed up with the tax on cigarettes, bought us two Mystic ecig kits.  I have been on it for four days and have not had one urge for a real cigarette.  I am looking forward to slowly weening myself from this habit.   I am hoping to pass this method on to many family members who also smoke. I have confidence this can work!

  19. My husband and I bought an e-cigarette kit and e-juice. We chose the plain nicotine flavor. Still too soon for us to say it will help us, however, we are quite impressed with the first 24 hours. I can even use it around people that have problems with the smell of smoke, i’ve tested it around other people and they approve it does not bother them one bit. No smell !!!! I smell better already, can’t wait for the taste of food to improve.
    If the FDA finds something that could be dangerous from using a e-cig–surely its far better than the 4,000 chemicals you get from a real cigarette and better than the second hand smoke everyone complains about.

  20. been smoke free for over a year tried time after time to quit just could not do it
    e-cigs are the only way to quit.

  21. We bought the Talon E-Cig last Friday, smoked 4 regular cigarettes since. It’s a little weird not lighting up, but today is my first day without a normal cigarette(Monday). I can smell better, taste better, and already feel better. I would recommend this to anyone, I wasn’t even in the market to quit, just sorta happened.

  22. I’ve been using the e-cig since april 1, 2013. I smoked less for the first day and a half. Now I’m not smoking real cigs at all. for the last 6 days smoke free!!! The first few days I did have a couple nic fits. But not anmore! My heart doctor wanted me to use the e-cigs 4 years ago. As I have heart failure and copd. chronic bronchidis. I dont want to die of lung cancer or get emphazima. So I think e-cigs are great. Next time I see my heart doctor he’ll be happy I’m not smoking any more. I think everyones right. The government just wants money. They don want tobacco to lose its business.

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