Why Vapor From E-Cigarettes Is Dangerous (2:47)
As a family physician I have had many patients ask me about e-cigarettes. “Are they safe?” one patient wanted to know. “Do they actually work, doc?” another inquired. I usually begin by answering, “there are things we know about e-cigarettes, but there are things that we don’t know as well…”
E-cigarettes fall into the category of products called ENDS - Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. They are typically battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine along with flavorings and other chemicals via vapor. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and it is reported that there are over 250 brands on the market, though it is likely there are more. E-cigarette devices generally consist of 3 parts: 1) a cartridge which holds the solution of nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals, 2) a heating device (also called a vaporizer), and 3) a source of power, which is usually a battery.
E-cigarettes have become very popular over the years. Per the FDA, in 2014, 12.6% of U.S. adults had tried an e-cigarette and 3.7% used e-cigs daily or on some days. Adults are not the only ones using e-cigarettes either, as there has been an increase in the number of young people using them. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes, they are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, having surpassed conventional cigarettes in 2014.
People use e-cigarettes for many different reasons. Some feel that they are safer than conventional cigarettes and others cite the desire to quit smoking and feel that e-cigarettes have helped them reach their goals. But, while this might be the case, e-cigarettes are not necessarily safer. The Surgeon General states that “although e-cigarettes generally emit fewer toxicants than combustible tobacco products, we know that aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless.” Furthermore, even though many e-cigarette companies state that their product can help smokers quit, the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a safe or effective smoking cessation tool.