If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 before reading the information below.

So what are E-cigarettes?  Electronic cigarettes, including e-pipes, e-hookah, e-cigars and e-pens have become a collective way of distributing nicotine. All of these devices are forms of inhaling an aerosol that contains toxic substances, chemicals and nicotine. The devices can be heated, battery operated or contain a refillable cartridge. The e-liquid found in the cartridges is a formula composed of nicotine that is extracted from tobacco and mixed with propylene glycol, additives, and sometimes flavorings. ¹

Currently, an exact list of ingredients in e-cigarettes has not been established, however in 2009 lab tests were done and levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals were detected, including anti-freeze.  Depending on the brand of e-cigarettes that are purchased, the level of toxins varies. In 2014, there were tests done to show that a higher level of aerosol contains more formaldehyde, a carcinogen known to cause cancer.

As far as flavors go, many brands use Diacetyl, a chemical typically used in food products such as dairy, caramel and popcorn to add flavor.  This chemical has been shown to cause irreversible lung disease.  If these findings weren’t enough reason to avoid e-cigarettes, add the information collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that reports the number of calls to poison control centers for exposure to e-cigarettes.  The numbers have increased due to accidental ingestion and over exposure of these products causing poisoning, nausea, vomiting, acute toxicity and respiratory depression.

Nicotine is a harmful and addictive substance. It has been shown to have a negative impact on adolescent brain development, cognitive and behavioral impairments, heart, nervous system and memory.  It can also harm a developing fetus if the user is pregnant. ²

In 2014, the FDA conducted lab tests on e-cigarettes and found that the cartridges labeled nicotine-free had detectable traces of nicotine.  Another study showed that that the amount of nicotine listed on the packaging was substantially different than the amounts delivered to the user.  Nicotine also causes withdrawal symptoms after the initial effects wear off. ³

Originally, vaping was allowed in public places due to the fact that e-cigarettes do not emit smoke, however, they exposed others to secondhand emissions. Some carcinogens found in these secondhand emissions were benzene, formaldehyde and tobacco-specific nitrosamines.  The American Lung Association has now prohibited the use of these products in public places and worksites.

One of the most common questions about e-cigarettes has been “Can they help someone quit smoking?”.  The answer is complicated.  These products have been marketed as a method to help smokers kick the habit, however it is not been approved by the FDA’s Center for Drug and Evaluation and Research as an effective or safe method to quit smoking. Studies in 2015 revealed that users are combining e-cigarette use with conventional cigarette use as well. The rate at which our youth are experimenting with e-cigarettes is alarming and increasing every day.  E-products are promoted as a vogue and fashionable fad in marketing ads.  They offer flavors and easy access to purchase online. This trend has aggressively led to a new generation of smokers that are already hooked.

It is important to educate and bring awareness to our youth and families on these harmful products as with any other substance. E-cigarettes are a tobacco product and should be treated as one. The impact that these products have on our health ranging from secondhand emission to firsthand toxicity is creating future concerns for our youth. If we make a decision to encourage our youth to avoid these products and set an example, we will already be making a difference.

Sources:

  1. Cameron JM, Howell DN, White JR, Andrenyak DM, Layton ME, Roll JM. Variable and Potentially Fatal Amounts of Nicotine in E-Cigarette Nicotine Solutions. Tobacco Control. 2014; 23:77-8.
  2. http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/e-cigarettes.html; Main article came from: AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/e-cigarettes-and-lung-health.html
  3. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0382.pdf