Electronic Cigarettes: Safety Concerns

Electronic cigarette consumption has been the subject of controversy in recent years. Are they safe? Find out more in this article.
Electronic Cigarettes: Safety Concerns

Last update: 22 January, 2020

Electronic cigarettes arose as an attempt to find alternative methods to reduce the damage tobacco products cause. However, the more experts study them, the more questions arise regarding whether they have additional risks. Thus, it seems that instead of providing benefits, they may actually cause harm.

However, some still advocate their use. Therefore, it’s a good idea to be informed to make healthy decisions regarding electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes: good or bad?

A few vapers on a table.

It isn’t easy to understand the potential effects of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes. In fact, there are many different kinds of them, and in many cases, their content is unclear.

Although electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies them as “tobacco” products. Thus, you can imagine their health effects and impact.

Electronic cigarettes arose as an option to replace conventional cigarettes. However, there’s no scientific evidence to render an account of their safety or effectiveness when it comes to quitting tobacco.

Therefore, the Argentinian National Administration of Drugs, Foods, and Medical Devices (ANMAT) even ratified a ban on their importation, distribution, and marketing, which is yet another sign of the safety concerns that the use of electronic cigarettes raise.

Available types of electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are available in many sizes and forms, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens, or USB flash drives, for example. These cigarettes have a battery that turns on the device, a heating element that heats the e-liquid and turns it into an aerosol, a cartridge or a tank that contains the e-liquid, and an opening used to inhale the aerosol.

The emergence of new verbs

The word “vaping” refers to inhaling the “aerosol” of an electronic cigarette. The Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) and the National Committee for Smoking Prevention (NPTC) have warned about the associated risks and safety concerns of vaping, noting that:

“It isn’t a method to quit smoking; its use is harmful to health and can become a gateway to smoking.”

It’s important to be aware of their effects

A person inhaling aerosol from a e-cigarette.

In this sense, it’s important to resort to appropriate sources to collect data from the scientific literature. In an article published by the presidents of the NPTC and SEPAR, the authors collected evidence on these and other issues related to the toxicity, addictiveness, and usefulness of these devices to help people quit smoking.

The authors noted that:

“The appearance of electronic cigarettes has generated expectations about their potential usefulness as a harm reduction strategy, as well as fears about the possible incitement to nicotine consumption in youth or their detterring effect on quitting smoking.”

Basically, there are still different opinions, and they’re not completely sure about their effects.

Recommendations

According to information from the General Directorate of Public Health and Addiction from the Region of Murcia:

  • Firstly, it’s recommended that all people, especially children, and adolescents, avoid using electronic cigarettes.
  • Secondly, it’s best to avoid the use of these devices, with or without nicotine, in any space for public use.
  • Finally, the use of electronic cigarettes to quit smoking isn’t recommended.

We hope you found this article helpful.

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  • Agencia Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica, ANMAT, Argentina.
  • Comité Nacional para la Prevención del Tabaquismo (CNPT).
  • Sociedad Española de Neumología y Cirugía Torácica, SEPAR.