Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Dangers Of Electric Cigarettes

The vapors from smokeless cigarettes could be dangerous.

Smokeless cigarettes, more commonly called electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, look like regular cigarettes but do not contain tobacco. They deliver pure nicotine to users through a battery-operated cartridge. In 2009, the CEO of Smoking Everywhere--one of the largest distributors of smokeless cigarettes--told CNN, "There are no ingredients in our e-cigs that can cause cancer. However, it is a pretty new product, so we are not 100 percent sure of the side effects at this point." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other groups, however, caution that electronic cigarettes may be dangerous.

Impact on Circulatory System

Though nicotine is not carcinogenic, no scientific studies have yet determined how delivering pure nicotine to the lungs might affect overall health. "We have no clue what the health effects could be," says Dr. Steven Schroeder, a smoking cessation expert at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center.

Questionable Ingredients

Some electronic cigarettes may contain toxic chemicals. In a 2009 press release, the FDA warned that laboratory analysis indicated the presence of toxic chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is used in anti-freeze. Moreover, the manufacturers and distributors do not label the products to warn consumers about such potentially hazardous ingredients.


Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, used a smoking machine to calculate how strongly consumers must puff on electronic cigarettes to get the same amount of nicotine they receive from tobacco cigarettes. After testing five brands, they determined that all but one--Liberty Stix--required higher vacuum, or stronger suction, than tobacco cigarettes. Stronger puffs cause people to inhale the substance deeper into their lungs and can lead to "compensatory smoking"--the use of more electronic cigarettes to achieve the desired level of nicotine.


In addition to concerns about electronic cigarettes' chemicals, the FDA warned that distributors were marketing electronic cigarettes to young people. By touting electronic cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking, the products may encourage nicotine addiction in youth.

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