In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes contain another principle ingredient. The ingredient will be either propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerine (VG). The classification “generally recognized as safe” applies to both. Research to date indicates either e-liquid presents less risk than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Inhalation of PG and VG in this manner is new. As a new method, the long-term repercussions of e-juice inhalation are unknown. The use of both in food, pharmaceutical and hygiene products is long-standing. Negative impact of the liquid in these other forms of consumption and use is negligible.
It deserves mention that asthma inhalers containing PG show no significant long-term harm. The amount of PG inhaled with asthma treatment is vastly different from the amount inhaled with e-cigarettes. The difference disallows using studies of PG in asthma inhalers as a basis for e-cigarette use, but those studies do show potentially low risk.
The known long-term effects of tobacco cigarettes are numerous. Heart disease, stroke and COPD can result from cigarette smoking. There are possible links to macular degeneration and cataracts. Considering the carcinogenic properties of up to 60 tobacco ingredients, the high cancer risk associated with cigarette smoking is not surprising.
The effects of PG relate to discomfort rather than health. A few PG users report dry throats leading to sore throats. It may also cause muscle aches and cramping. There have been rare reports of diarrhea. A switch to VG relieved almost every user’s discomfort. There is minimal reporting of side effects from VG usage.
The side effects of tobacco cigarettes are numerous. Shortness of breath, increased pulse and reduced immunity to illness are a short list of hazards to health. Some side effects are purely superficial. These include wrinkles, stained teeth and fingers, and clinging odor. The remaining hazards are too many to continue listing.
Choosing an e-juice is a matter of personal preference. VG offers a sweeter taste. PG offers more of a hit to the throat. Choosing either one over smoking tobacco cigarettes appears to have less risk. There is a lack of conclusive, long-term studies of the liquid component of e-cigarettes. Despite the lack, research suggests e-liquid at its most harmful will not come near the level of harm caused by smoking tobacco cigarettes.