Are Electronic Cigarettes More or Less Harmful than Regular Cigarettes?
By Adam Quilton, Quit Smoking Comparison Contributor
I hope you will find some value in this article I researched for you. I try to answer all questions that come in, but as always, feel free to email us!
An important question facing smokers today is whether they can expect an improvement in health by upgrading to an electronic cigarette (e-cig). It is now common knowledge that regular cigarettes are unhealthy in a number of ways; inhaling smoke damages the lung and throat tissue, the tar that slows circulation causes skin and blood flow problems, and over 4000 chemicals including at least 80 known carcinogens are distributed throughout the body.
A New Product in an Old Market
But because e-cigs are only now beginning to hit the mainstream market, people really know very little about how they work or whether they are any less harmful. It will probably be several years before any reputable studies come out on the long term effects of inhaling electronic cigarette vapor, but the good news is – unlike the hundreds of years of mystery about the ingredients in regular cigarettes were – we already know what we’re dealing with.
Known Risks with Electronic Cigarettes
A recent court case against the FDA offers a good outline on the issues surrounding the safety of e-cigs. In 2009, the FDA was sued by an e-cig manufacturer for asserting a new regulatory power by attempting to seize shipments of electronic cigarettes. In its defense, the agency cited concerns that: e-cigs lack controls on potency, discourage current smokers from quitting by providing an alternative in smoke-free spaces, and “could serve as a pathway to nicotine addiction for children.”
Ultimately, however, the judge ruled against the agency criticizing that: “This case appears to be yet another example of FDA’s aggressive efforts to regulate recreational tobacco products as drugs or devices.” In short, the case was decided on jurisdictional grounds.
Known Benefits of Electronic Cigarettes
But an important fact to note from the FDA’s loss in court is that it really didn’t assert any specific harms from e-cigs, and actually raised some important advantages. For instance, nearly all e-cigs do offer control of potencies with cartridge strengths ranging from 16mg of Nicotine to none at all. Also, the agency’s mentioning that smokers now have an alternative to traditional cigarettes is certainly a benefit to many who have serious health problems and a long-term addiction.
Additionally, it must be mentioned that not inhaling chemical-laden smoke on a regular basis provides several health benefits. Instead, e-cig vapor – comprised generally of Nicotine and propylene glycol – yields a much cleaner method of delivering Nicotine. Propylene glycol is an ingredient in several regularly used products like moisturizers, cake batter and toothpaste. Its most familiar use as a vapor is actually in smoke machines at parties and clubs. And while we are still unsure about the long-term effects of propylene glycol exposure on the lungs, many people believe seem to believe that the risk of inhaling one chemical is less than the risk of inhaling 4000.
The Verdict on Electronic vs. Traditional Cigarettes
It is true that people and agencies like the FDA certainly have valid concerns about how a lack of regulations on e-cigs may lead to greater use by people, and the possibility of teenagers. But they must also eventually acknowledge that for now, e-cigs appear to be a much safer alternative to regular cigarettes.