How healthy are electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes are relatively new devices which have been steadily gaining popularity in the UK, Europe and the USA in recent years. It is estimated that around 2 million people in the USA use electronic cigarettes and around 500,000 in the UK.

Electronic cigarette kit retailers and e cigar sellers often claim that their products are much healthier than smoking cigarettes and this seems plausible, after all, we all know cigarettes are extremely bad for our health – electronic cigarette sand electronic cigars surely can’t be worse? When you look at the ingredients in electronic cigarette cartridges (in particular, the ingredients of the e-juice in the cartridge) you find that the vapour being produced is simply a mixture of purified water, food grade flavourings, propylene glycol, glycerol and nicotine.

The ingredients of the vapour in electronic cigarettes must be pretty much harmless and at least 99% safer than tobacco smoke claim a few American doctors. With a bit of research it is clear that electronic cigarettes are much better for your health than smoking as the ingredients of the ‘smoke’ they produce contains none of the 4000 carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarettes, no tar, no carbon monoxide etc. So, it is obvious that electronic cigarettes are much safer than smoking.

Let’s look at one of the most controversial chemicals found in electronic cigarettes: Propylene glycol. This has recently got bad press from the media and has caused a lot of negative hype about electronic cigarettes. The actual fact is that propylene glycol is an extremely safe chemical. It is used in many medications, cosmetics, foods and in devices such as asthma inhalers and smoke machines. Importantly, it is ‘generally recognised as safe’ by the American FDA.

Another ingredient of electronic cigarettes is flavourings. The particular flavourings used are all food grade and of no risk to health, exactly the same flavourings you would find in supermarket ready meals, cakes, drinks, puddings and more.

The only ingredient that is not fully confirmed to be 100% safe is nicotine. The vapour produced by the devices contains a small amount of nicotine, usually around 1.8% or so. Nicotine has not been directly linked to cancer but it is addictive and it is also very toxic in large amounts. Nicotine is the substance that gives the user of the electronic cigarette the feeling as is if they have had a real cigarette; it causes mild effects of alertness, calmness, stimulation and relaxation. Nicotine is the whole reason people smoke, it is what gives them that nice feeling and it is habit forming.

The brilliance of electronic cigarettes is that users can enjoy nicotine without having to burn tobacco, as when burning anything cancerous chemicals are released along with ash. Users of electronic cigarettes can benefit from avoiding the nasty odour, getting smoke in their eyes, second hand smoke, cancerous chemicals, stained teeth, bad breath etc.

On top of the health benefits of smoking electronic cigarettes, there are also great monetary benefits. A 20 pack per day smoker could save over £2500.00 per year simply just by switching from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes