There have been ongoing debates and discussions regarding the safety of using electronic cigarettes and the effects of e-liquid. Over the last few years, thousands of smokers have switched to e-cigarettes from conventional, tobacco cigarettes. Many experts believe that e-cigs are a much safer smoking alternative, but skeptics are concerned about additional risks. Experts are still conducting studies and researching the effects of such electronic devices, but many consider them to be tobacco harm reduction tools. The biggest concern comes from the use of e-liquid, which contains varying levels of nicotine and propylene glycol. Several tobacco and health care experts have been interviewed regarding the safety of e-cigarettes versus traditional cigarettes.
When asked to compare smoking tobacco cigarettes with the use of electronic cigarettes, Professor Carl Phillips (see video interview at the bottom of this post) from the TobaccoHarmReduction.org Institute believed that the e-cig was significantly safer.
He, and other experts, refuse to classify e-cigs as safe because this implies that there are no risks whatsoever. However, when looking at the harmful effects of smoking tobacco cigarettes, including the carcinogens, carbon monoxide and chemicals present, it is easy to say that any alternative is safer.
The research performed on e-liquid shows that the levels of carcinogens in e-cigs are thousands of times less than those in regular cigarettes, and that the vapour (as opposed to the juice) contains no carcinogens at all. Some experts believe that this means e-cigs indicate no risk for causing cancer in users.There is some concern about the long-term effects of using electronic cigarettes, and experts agree that more research is required before any definitive claims can be made. The research done on nicotine use so far indicates that this drug poses a very small risk of developing certain cardiovascular diseases. Skeptics of the e-cig are concerned about the propylene glycol present in e-liquid. Dr. Adrian Payne from Tobacco Horizons states, “[...] these concerns seem vastly overplayed when compared to the risks of cigarette smoking.”
The biggest obstacle e-cigarettes face is the lack of regulation in the manufacturing process. Currently, anyone can open up a factory in Asia and start producing e-cigs without proper regulation. Consumers who buy e-cigs from these factories may not know exactly what they are getting in their devices. Professor Riccardo Pilosa, MD, PhD, from the University of Catania shares his thoughts by stating, “any further improvement in their manufacturing standards and ease of use will definitely foster a wider adoption of the e-cig and a steeper reduction in smoking prevalence.”