Over the past couple months there have been some opponents of electronic cigarettes coming out publicly and making many false or misleading statements about electronic cigarettes. These nay-sayers often use phrases such as “we just don’t know” to further their agenda against electronic smoking. On the flip side, there are some suppliers and supporters of e-cigarettes making statements that are also not entirely true to promote the product and gain public acceptance of the technology. So, below is an incomplete list of what we do and what we don’t know about electronic cigarettes.
Here’s what we DON’T know about electronic cigarettes:
1) We don’t know that they contain carcinogens. Some e-liquid may, but some may not. The FDA tested it and found that some do, but it wasn’t clear that they were found in the actual vapor. What was clear, was that when it was found, it was in trace levels.
2) We don’t know what the long term effects are of inhaling propylene glycol (or vegetable glycerin) may be. The EPA study on Propylene Glycol states, “A review of the available data has shown propylene glycol and dipropylene glycol to be negative for carcinogenicity in studies conducted up to the testing limit doses established by the Agency; therefore, no further carcinogenic analysis is required.” and “Upon reviewing the available toxicity information, the Agency has concluded that there are no endpoints of concern for oral, dermal, or inhalation exposure to propylene glycol and dipropylene glycol.” With that said, we still can’t say for certain what the long term implications of inhaling propylene glycol are to the user.
3) We don’t know if electronic cigarettes can help someone stop smoking. We have argued many times on this blog that is is actually a poor stop smoking product because it allows the continuation of the smoking habit. It also continues to deliver nicotine which is addictive and one reason smokers keep smoking. Either way, there is no evidence that it is an effective quit smoking product.
4) We don’t know if this is eventually something kids will try. To date, there is no evidence that any kids have tried e-cigarettes especially those who have never smoked. We fully support making electronic cigarettes an adult only product.
Here’s what we DO know about electronic cigarettes:
1) The majority of the vapor produced consists of propylene glycol, glycerin and water. There is also generally some amount of nicotine in the vapor, unless zero nicotine e-liquid is used. This doesn’t mean there is nothing bad in the vapor, it just means that we do know what is in the majority of the vapor. Further testing is under way to find out all the trace elements.
2) There is no smoke produced because there is no combustion.
3) At least some smokers find e-smoking to be a decent alternative to smoking tobacco.
4) Electronic cigarettes have been on the worldwide market for approximately 7 years with no reports of major issues from the users. There have been reports of dry throat, headaches and other minor symptoms. This does not mean that there won’t be reports of more severe issues from users, but it does mean there haven’t been any yet.
5) To our knowledge, tobacco companies DO NOT make or sell any electronic cigarettes on the market. In the United States most are sold by smaller, start up businesses.
6) Burning tobacco is the cause of upwards of 400,000 deaths per year in the United States alone and electronic cigarettes are an alternative to it.