Electronic Cigarettes Hazards: The whole story

Electronic cigarettes are all the rave and why not; the tobacco industry is in severe scrutiny, law suits flying like sand particles in the Arabian desert, settlement values causing eye pops, dozens of research making a bull’s-eye of the industry and what not.

Slowly the attention has caught up with e-cigs: although invented in the ‘60s, e-cigs have only begun to meet the spotlight and that explains why the attention did not come any sooner. The magnitude of the attention owes to the modern perspective of the dangers of smoking, much of which try to open up the possibility of the same old snake with a new skin.

There’s not much to prove this or otherwise, and the authorities to be listened to are saying it’s too early to draw conclusions leaving many important questions unanswered. But, the bedrock to getting answers—studies and research—have begun to bear fruit. Before we step onto the red carpet of seeing what kind of fruits hang from the e-cig tree, it’s important to note this – one view that’s been shared by all parties in this quagmire has been that e-cigs have less hazards than cigarettes, but harmful still because of the presence of nicotine in both products.

The presence of nicotine is a hazard in its own right because of the centuries old story of nicotine-addiction. But let’s be clear, nicotine is not the killer in cigarettes, its job in the cigarette stick is to make sure you light another stick when the stick you’re on becomes a stub. That’s it, it is a contributing factor, not the factor itself.

This is appreciated when we review the content of the e-cig cartridges, some e-liquids have nicotine, and some do not. So you have to pay attention to the inclusion or non-inclusion of nicotine in an e-cig liquid as well as the quantity. This would help if you’re trying to put a clip on your nicotine dependency.

That’s not it however between nicotine and e-cigarettes, as liquid nicotine is far more dangerous and possibly lethal than what is meshed in a traditional cigarette stick. Until recently, the figures have been a scare, but there have been significant cutbacks on the excesses. However, these are not enough to white out the dangers of ingesting nicotine present in e-liquids. In addition to the obvious way of nicotine ingestion in e-liquids by drinking, nicotine can also get through the skin to your circulatory system. This is troubling especially as there is little regulation to ensure that kids don’t accidentally ingest them.

Nicotine is not the only drawback of the use of e-cigs, the fact that toxins are likely present in the aerosol produced by an electronic cigarette is also an hazard. Although, the toxins are far fewer than the hundreds found in conventional cigarettes, and are also in trace quantities; no one knows how much is too little to cause considerable harm and if on a nano-scale these toxins interact differently causing more or less health concerns.

The open fact is that the use of e-cig would not color teeth, the lips, corrode the airways as much as a cigarette or bland the taste buds; but a puff of e-cig vapor is not exactly at par in constituents with fresh air as we know it. That raises health concerns and is a hazard to be noted.

The last electronic cigarette hazard discussed points to the next. Since the electronic cigarette industry is unregulated at the moment, there is no uniform number of compounds in the aerosol produced nor is the volumetric amount of each component uniform across aerosol produced by different brands. Heck, the temperature level at which the liquid is vaporized affects the constituents of the vapor. If anything, these are a lot of variables.

But what makes this discovery unsettling is that here we have different brands mixing in a lot of different substances at various levels without having composite knowledge of how these substances affect the body. It is worse off, when regulatory tests detect compounds the manufacturer failed to stipulate in the pack or ingredients list.

This is a worrisome hazard, probably more worrisome than the others, but can sufficiently be reduced by going with a reputable brand. Cheap run-of-the-mill imported brands might be more precarious than you think. Reputable brands are more likely to support research into the substances used, including specifics into the quantity used, what fraction of it gets into the vapor and the possible health effects of the compounds. This information will thus guide their manufacture of e-cigs.

In conclusion, results will continue to emerge in the coming years and links will be made: health concerns for non-smokers taking up e-cigs will be revealed and these will shape the future of the electronic cigarette industry. However, most of the existing electronic cigarette hazards can be made less stiffening, it is your job to make that happen. Keeping e-cigs and accessories away from the reach of children, keeping yourself abreast of recent changes in the industry especially as regards your preferred e-cig brand, and doing well to find verifiable stats will help.

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