Electronic cigarettes are thought to be safer than regular cigarettes. But they’re not 100% safe. Our Healthy Skeptic looks at what’s known – and not known – about the effects of e-cigarettes.
Electronic or e-cigarettes continue to be the subject of heated debate. Supporters say they’re far less dangerous than regular cigarettes, while critics point to their possible health risks and power to addict people. Neither side, it turns out, is blowing smoke.
E-cigarettes consist of a container of liquid, which includes nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. A battery-powered heating device turns the liquid into a vapor, which is inhaled or “vaped” through a mouthpiece.
Smoke from conventional cigarettes contains cancer-causing tar and a number of other toxic compounds.
E-cigarettes don’t produce tar, which makes them safer than regular cigarettes. But not 100% safe. The vapor has been found to contain potentially harmful substances.
Whether e-cigarettes cause cancer, respiratory problems, heart disease, or other conditions, as conventional cigarettes do, is unknown. But we do know that the nicotine in e-cigarettes can be addictive and raises heart rate and blood pressure, at least temporarily. What’s more, e-cigarettes have exploded and caused injuries.
Another concern is that e-cigarettes may hook young people on nicotine and lead them to start smoking regular cigarettes.
On the flip side, e-cigarettes may help smokers kick the habit, but the jury is still out how effective they are.
If you smoke and have not been able to quit, it may be worth switching to e-cigarettes. But be sure to use them as a replacement for smoking, not in addition to it. While reducing the deadly effects of smoking is certainly a positive step, the safest course is to steer clear of all cigarettes of whatever kind.
Helping you be a healthy skeptic, I’m Robert Davis.