E-cigarettes have become more and more popular over the last 10 to 15 years, as more and more people turn to them, usually as a substitute for traditional cigarettes. Most people believe smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, to be far healthier than the alternative, while some people insist on waiting, suggesting that the proper research on the health effects of e-cigarettes will take time to be completed. Many people also intentionally use e-cigarettes as a means to try to wean themselves off of tobacco entirely.
As you’ll see, all of these opinions have at least some truth to them. E-cigarettes can serve a valuable purpose, and they don’t include all of the harmful effects and toxins that cigarettes carry. Like with most new advances, e-cigarettes have both positive and negative aspects that should be carefully considered before using.
The Good: Fewer Chemicals and Managing Addiction
E-cigarettes were first billed as cigarettes without the tobacco, and it’s true that e-cigarettes contain far less dangerous additives than regular cigarettes. It lets users get a direct hit of the addictive nicotine without tobacco or tar or any of several significant carcinogens that cigarettes contain. Some research has shown that nicotine users who switch completely from cigarettes to e-cigarettes do end up getting significantly lower levels of carcinogens.
Cutting out the other ingredients of cigarettes and leaving only the nicotine that is at the core of the smoking habit gives addicts a chance to taper down their usage over time through the controlled use of e-cigarettes. In that sense, it’s like a nicotine patch that still allows the user to simulate the physical habit of smoking, which can also aid in reducing the habit over time. While it’s not an ideal solution, e-cigarettes can also lessen lung distress in nicotine addicts with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A history of smoking can cause COPD, and e-cigarettes let smokers that can’t otherwise break their habit to manage their symptoms and avoid aggravating their lung health any further.
The Bad: Accidents and Unforeseen Chemical Effects
Until 2016, e-cigarettes were able to avoid being subject to FDA regulations in the same way traditional cigarettes are. This allowed practices and technologies surrounding e-cigarettes to vary widely in sometimes dangerous ways. Some also suggest that e-cigarettes and the exciting flavors they come in may attract many young people that otherwise would never have developed a nicotine habit. Even if it’s not as dangerous as smoking, no one can argue that vaping is entirely healthy.
The technology itself can lead to some dangers. E-cigarette injuries are more common than you think. On some rare occasions, while charging or even during use, e-cigarettes have been known to explode. Improper usage of the e-cigarette liquid, even by accidental absorption through the skin, can be dangerous and has resulted in thousands of poison control center calls.
Then there are the unknown dangers. Studies over time have revealed that some of the other chemicals used in e-cigarettes, especially some of those used for flavorings, also have potential adverse health effects. The fact is that researchers have not had nearly as much time to study e-cigarettes as they have had to study traditional cigarettes. Until they are able to investigate and conduct long-term studies on e-cigarette users fully, we won’t fully know how relatively safe or dangerous e-cigarettes may be.