Why It Is Not Safe To Replace Cigarette Smoke With E-Cigarette

not safe replace cigarette smoking with e-cigarette vaping ecigs still unhealthy

Vapor E-cigarettes claim to be a safer, even healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes, so it is not surprising at all that they have gained so much popularity over the last decade. Celebrities are seen smoking e-cigarettes and heard loudly discussing their benefits, and it is easy to believe them. According to a survey conducted by the CDC, 10 percent of high school seniors from America have tried e-cigarettes. However, are these electronic devices really as safe as they promise to be? Science steps in to say that the answer might not be an easy one; it certainly is not the one that the promoters of e-cigarettes want us to believe. 

But first, what exactly is an e-cigarette? It is defined as an electronic atomization cigarette that can be used as a substitute for conventional cigarettes. It made its first appearance in 2002, with a Chinese pharmacist who invented it stating that it will help people quit smoking. Today, China is the biggest manufacturer of e-cigarettes in the world. 

An e-cigarette atomizes something that is known as e-liquid: a solution of propylene glycol with nicotine. It can also be modified with other additives that change the color or the flavor of the vape tanks. Some e-cigarettes vaporize products that derive from cannabis. 

The e-cigarette market exploded so quickly mostly because of various aggressive marketing campaigns started by their manufacturers. These compared smoking to vaping and praised the health benefits of the latter. According to a survey that was conducted in 2014 by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UC San Francisco, 90 percent of almost 60 e-cigarette manufacturers websites they looked at called their products cheaper, healthier, and cleaner when compared to conventional cigarettes. 76 percent of these websites claimed that e-cigarettes do not produce second-hand smoke, and 25 percent got paid doctors to support these points. 

All of this sounds great, doesn't it? Nevertheless, there is one thing that not even one of these websites mentions, and it is that e-cigarettes deliver about five times less nicotine per puff than a conventional cigarette. This does not make them safer; instead, it makes smokers of e-cigarettes turn to these devices more often and for longer periods of time, thus receiving the same, if not larger, amount of nicotine. Unfortunately, the community does not seem to see this side of the coin. The fact that you could get thrown out of a bar, a restaurant, or any other closed space for smoking a regular cigarette but nobody will tell you anything if you smoke an e- cigarette is only one example. 

As already mentioned above, e-cigarettes were created to help people quit smoking. However, due to countless advertisements that promote e-cigarettes for being safe both for people and for the environment, many turn to them and stay hooked. As the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education Dr, Stanton Glantz states, despite the fact that a single puff on an e-cigarette is not as dangerous as a single puff on a conventional cigarette, the result does not change: people continue to smoke. 

But e-cigarettes are still safer, right? Not according to Ray Casciari, the OC's St. Joseph Hospital's chief medical officer and director of the thoracic oncology program. 

Having 35 years of experience to support his claims, he states that it does not matter what you put in your lungs, and there always is a chance that it will cause lung irritation or damage. 

A practical study that was published in Reproductive Toxicology agrees with this idea. The researchers' findings suggest that the lungs of an adult might not be very sensitive to the vapors from an e-cigarette. However, teenagers and pregnant women who are exposed to e-cigarettes, either as first or second-hand vapor, are at risk. 

Αnother study that can be found in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology proves that, in terms of how much nitric oxide is exhaled, e-cigarettes are not any different from their conventional brothers. Nitric oxide is the reason why smooth muscles of the heart and the lungs relax, thus increasing the risk of a heart attack and reducing lung function. Obviously, the less nitric oxide you inhale, the better for you, but e- cigarettes do not provide the "less" alternative. In fact, this study only looked at the best e-cigarette manufacturers. Knowing this, it might be scary to take a closer look at which other substances are found in cheaper, less popular brands. They might be even more dangerous than conventional cigarettes. 

Other information that we know about e-cigarettes does not work as proof of their safety and harmlessness either. A number of studies confirmed that toluene, formaldehyde, and other chemicals, as well as various heavy metals, such as lead, nickel, and cadmium, can be found in both first and second-hand vapor. It is worth noting that their concentration is a lot smaller when compared to regular cigarettes, but it is large enough to conclude that e-cigarettes can lead to cancer. 

As the study conducted by the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products found, vapor also contains solvents that are used to dissolve the nicotine and flavorings. When heated, these solvents become carboxyls: known carcinogenic compounds. 

To make things even worse, manufacturers encourage the users of e-cigarettes to increase the power and the operating temperature of the device. This way, the rate of carboxyl vaporization is increased together with that of nicotine vaporization. A modern vape mods with the power turned up to the maximum produces as much formaldehyde as a regular cigarette. So, there certainly can't be any argument about the e-cigarette's safety. 

Manufacturers also claim that their products are better for the environment; sadly, this also is far from the truth. Ultrafine particles that are generated during the atomization process affect the environment in the same way as tobacco smoke. Additionally, these particles are not exactly healthy for people as well, since Science News found a connection between them and such chronic diseases as diabetes and asthma and various heart problems. 

Now, what about e-liquid that seems rather neutral? Unfortunately, this is one more substance that will not be very good for your health if you heat and inhale it. What we know about e-liquid is that it is made of propylene glycol, a synthetic liquid that can be found in many different cosmetics, foods, and medicines. It is rated as GRAS, i.e. Generally Recognized As Safe, by the FDA. But "generally recognized as safe" is not a synonym for "safe to inhale on a regular basis". As the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry proclaims, very little is known about what happens when propylene glycol comes in contact with air. 

What is known for sure, however, is that inhaling aerosolized propylene glycol leads to reduced spleen function and to problems with the central nervous system, as well as to changes in personality and behavior. The American Chemistry Council also regularly warns that inhaling theater fog, also made from the same substance, is very dangerous and can cause eye and respiratory infections. This applies to when propylene glycol is not heated; when it is, things are even worse because, after a certain temperature, it becomes propylene oxide. And this is a known carcinogen. 

As concerns of health threats that e-cigarettes can potentially create are rising, more and more research is being done to investigate the issue in more detail. This might be the biggest problem of e-cigarettes: scientists simply have not had enough time yet to fully understand how vaping will affect the human body in the long run and whether it can be used to help smokers quit. Even though there are promising data that suggest that e-cigarettes may indeed be used for the purpose they were created for, it is yet to become definite. 

Until scientists prove that e-cigarettes are in fact a safer alternative, they should be treated like regular cigarettes. They should be banned from being used indoors to protect non-smokers from second-hand vapor, and they should not be advertised on television and radio. With fewer people being persuaded to try e-cigarettes by aggressive advertisements, the demand for this product will significantly drop. Stores that sell e-cigarettes should be required to have the same licenses as places that sell regular cigarettes. Finally, it should be illegal for the manufacturers to make unsupported claims about the health benefits of e-cigarettes or the fact that they only emit water vapor. 

To sum up, we simply do not have answers to all the questions about e-cigarettes, especially when it comes to their long-term effects on both physical and mental health. Undoubtedly, in some ways, they really are safer than conventional cigarettes, and yet this does not make them as safe as their manufacturers affirm that they are. Quite the opposite: they are able to seriously harm your health if you use them regularly. 

Even though e-cigarettes arguably cause less harm than regular cigarettes and this can be considered a positive thing, they still are a cocktail of chemical substances that we do not know much about. So, until we know more, it would be smarter to not live in an illusion of safety and avoid all cigarettes, whether they are or are not electronic.

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