Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

There has been a lot of discussion and misinformation over the past few years regarding electronic cigarettes. If you already vape, you have probably heard references to the “dangerous chemicals” the FDA says e-cigs contain. Oddly enough, this lecture usually comes from smokers, who are apparently quite comfortable with the poisons they are inhaling! It’s true that the Food and Drug Administration and some anti-smoking organizations have publicized some pretty negative and largely questionable information regarding e-cigs.

There are plenty of political and profit motives at work here and that subject will be saved for another day. In general, though, the FDA runs a pay-to-play operation that depends on the approval process to fund the organization. They want a drug approved before it is released and the electronic cigarette industry has failed in that regard. The administration is adamant that the electronic cigarette should be considered a drug because otherwise it is a tobacco product which is not subject to nearly as much of their oversight. Other organizations essentially are concerned because the electronic cigarette just looks and acts too much like a the real thing, which they hate with a passion. Update: in April of 2011, the FDA announced that it will comply with court rulings and will regulate the electronic cigarette as a tobacco product. While specific rules or guidelines have not been announced, this is generally considered to be good news for electronic cigarette users.

This negativity campaign is a shame, as e-cigs are one of the most promising smoking alternatives to ever come along. Electronic cigarettes still deliver nicotine, but none of the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. While nicotine is addictive, it has not been demonstrated to be harmful on its own. According to an article published by staff at the Mayo clinic, “While it's the nicotine in tobacco that keeps you hooked, the toxic effects come mainly from other substances in tobacco, none of which are present in any meaningful level in an electronic cigarette. Smokers have significantly higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer.” Nicotine in itself is not a killer, but it’s guilty by association with cigarettes.

Quitting smoking is the healthiest thing a smoker can do and getting nicotine in another form can help. As Dr. Jonathan Foulds, director of the Tobacco Dependence Program at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health puts it, “Going back to cigarettes is not only dangerous, it’s deadly, quitting smoking is hard work and nicotine replacement products are safe to use for as long as it takes to kick the tobacco addiction. In fact, some individuals may need to use more than one NRT product at the same time to finally quit.” Another of their papers states that, “Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges do not cause cancer, emphysema or heart attacks, even for smokers who already have had heart attacks or heart disease. And using NRT does not create a new addiction. Smokers are already addicted to nicotine and NRT products deliver less nicotine than cigarettes.” Addiction can never be called a good thing, but for those who are already addicted, why not promote a safer alternative? Electronic cigarettes are no more dangerous than any of the other stop smoking aids which are already available. If you’ve made it this far in your research, however, you already know that thousands of smokers have demonstrated the electronic cigarette to be a much more effective alternative.

Nicotine is not the only ingredient in e-liquid (the liquid used to provide the vapor in an electronic cigarette). Most liquids are mixed using a combination of Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerine (VG) and flavorings, none of which are deemed harmful.

PG gets the most bad press, but “it does not cause sensitization and shows no evidence of being a carcinogen or of being genotoxic,” according to DOW chemical’s website. And according to the , Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PG is a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) additive for foods and medications. Propylene glycol rarely causes toxic effects, and then only under very unusual circumstances.” Some fear-mongers have tried to arouse worry over the use of PG in various personal care and pharmaceutical products by dwelling on the fact that it is used in antifreeze. The truth is that it is used in a non-toxic antifreeze and is often confused with diethylene glycol which is considered toxic but even that only in much larger concentrations than we are talking about here. As some personal vaporizer users have noticed, it can be mildly irritating to the throat and eyes, but no long term effects have been recorded.

Vegetable Glycerine (VG) or Glycerol has seen a large increase in usage in e-liquids primarily because it produces more vapor than PG. VG is used in many foods and beverages and is safe for human consumption. When mixing juices, USP grade VG should be used.

As with VG, the flavorings used in electronic cigarette e-liquids are also primarily food grade, so there is no cause for concern over them. Some tobacco flavors are developed using real tobacco leaves, so there is the potential for the presence of trace amounts of nitrosamines, but again only trace amounts. Some studies, most notably an FDA study that is largely recognized as flawed, found amounts of other chemicals with amounts are so small as to be insignificant in individual cartridges.

The only informed conclusion that can be reached at this point in the history of the electronic cigarette is that they are relatively safe. If that statement sounds just a little uncertain, it’s because it is meant to be. There have simply been no long term studies of the affects of prolonged vaping. All we know is that the ingredients are safe and that no negative health impacts have been reported, even though they have been in use for several years.

The real question should be whether electronic cigarette are safer. When compared to the burning tobacco that they replace, the answer is an unequivocal YES! Perhaps the American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) white paper states it best. “The AAPHP Task Force, on the basis of extensive literature review and analysis, has concluded that a national harm reduction initiative, based partly on the potential attractiveness of electronic cigarettes to current smokers, could save the lives of 4 million of the 8 million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next 20 years.”

76 comments

  1. Joel says:

    Iv smoked for 15 years
    Iv had me evod for 1 day
    And I smoked less then one cigarette today
    I already know this is going to change my life
    I am so grateful I came across theses things

  2. Lorraine says:

    I have been a smoker for 45 yrs, quit a couple of times for short periods of time. Could no longer stand the smell and all of the ills of smoking. Also, as a professional its embarrassing to be viewed as a smoker. Always felt bad and had sore throats.

    Some of the guys at work were using the ecigs and said they were working so I bought one 12 days ago w/ vanilla juice and haven’t smoked one cigarette since. Unbelievable for me but I’m doing it and very happy. I have no desire to go back to smelling of cigs and wasting so much money on them. I don’t plan on staying on the vap to long but whatever it takes, I’m very grateful for this product.

  3. Michel says:

    I started using e-cigarettes yesterday, after having smoked tobacco cigarettes for forty years. I have been smoking a pack a day for 30 years.
    I had tried to quit several times using different methods: cold turkey, nicotine gum, nicotine patches. My record was a month before I started again. For me, the other nicotine delivery mechanism such as gum or patches barely reduced my cravings. What I really missed was the inhalinh and exhaling of smoke. The cravings for a cigarette did not decrease with time, they increased, until I reached a point where I said to myself that I’d rather risk cancer than go crazy devoting so much effort just to resist smoking.
    Using the e-cig, I am not even tempted to use a tobacco cigarette. I still have the (for me) satisfying sensation of inhaling and exhaling, except it is vapor instead of smoke, and the flavor is much more pleasant than tobacco. Is it totally safe? I do not know and I do not care, as it is for sure safer than smoking tobacco.

  4. Lynzey says:

    I smoked for 15 years. I didn’t want to quit but my husband told me to give it an honest try. I haven’t smoked for over a month now. I have heard done things about the e cig like the vapor is harmful to pets and some have blown up in faces. Are these trite?

    • Eric says:

      Like anything else you hear in the media, you need to take these reports with a grain of salt. Have ecigs caught on fire? Yes, but that is one out of millions and millions of those in use. Are there potentially harmful chemicals in the vapor? Most studies say there are not, but would I blow it in the face of a pet or child, no. The overwhelming evidence indicates that ecigs are far safer in all respects than their burning alternative.

  5. Andrea says:

    Day 3 and I know I will NEVER smoke another analog again. Love that term. Quit once for three years, was working out, in great shape and then foolishly started again. Thought I would never be able to quit again. Ecigs are like a second chance I never thought I would have. If only we had these a few years ago. them maybe my dad, who died from emphyzema, would still be with us. Just let them try and take these away from us!

    • Eric says:

      Thanks for the comment, Andrea. I too am saddened by the fact that these were not around years ago. I had an uncle that died from emphysema and often think he may have had a few more years with ecigs instead of the cigarettes that he smoked right up to the end.

  6. Ed Hall says:

    Yes! A lot safer than the alternative anyway…
    Even reading this page, it’s great to read about the success stories of lifetime smokers that have managed to kick the habit and seemingly feel a lot better for it. You’re not passively damaging the health of those around you, either. Win-win!

  7. Rene' says:

    I smoked for well over 30 years and after trying patches, gum, and Chantix, still couldn’t give up the habit. I quit for 8 months using my first OTC disposable (loved the taste but not the high expense!) Started back on cigs, quit again this past Christmas, but this time, had a couple of long-lasting batteries, tanks, and good e-juice. I actually tried several weeks ago to light up a cig and couldn’t stand it! I love vaping and have gone from 18mg of nicotine to 12mg. Will keep going down and even if I get to straight juice, may probably continue vaping, but I’ve gone from smoking a pack and a half a day to zero cigs and I don’t miss them one bit. I breathe better, no coughing, sleep better, smell better and that’s a drastic improvement in a short amount of time! Good enough for me! I may be adding “years” to my life!

  8. Bonnie Creamer says:

    I have smoked since I was 16, now 61. My daughter introduced me to vaping and I am so thankful. Day 12 with no smoking a regular cigarette!

  9. 2yrvapor says:

    I have been vaping for 2 yrs, and love my ecig. Here’s something to think about. I keep hearing there’s no long term studies, but in fact there may be. The same ingredient that makes vapor in ecigs have been used in fog machines for years. Think about people who work in entertainment business, performers, and even night clubs. They have been exposed since the 80’s. Of course fog machines don’t have nicotine, but they use the same liquid pg vg to make fog using a heating coil an ecig is a miniature fog machine. Maybe they could get some info from studies on fog machines.

  10. Gary G says:

    I had been smoking for 46 years, tried patches, acupuncture, hypnotism, gum, etc, all without success. I had a friend to told me about E cigarettes, so I went to the store where he bought his and bought one. The first couple weeks, I mixed E cigs with analogs, but finally just smoke my E cig. I changed flavors and that made a difference for me. I can see a change in my breathing and my smokers cough is gone and my car smells good. I find I have a lot of extra time now that I am not going outside to smoke. For me, it is a new life! I am so afraid that big tobacco, and the pharmaceuticals as well as the government tax and control hounds will ruin it all. After all, they do not now, nor have they ever cared about health, it has always been notoriety, control and money.

  11. I received a Vaping Kit for Christmas of this year…..It has been only 6 days that I have been cigarette free…..I am taking my endeavor one day at a time……..I enjoy vaping and knowing that I am free of the hold cigarettes had on me and it is very satisifying….the guilt trips I put on myself were just as bad as the habit of smoking….I am feeling better than I have in a very long time….I do not even have thoughts to smoke a cigarette….like my vaping!!!!

  12. I am embarrassed to admit that I have smoke for nearly 42 years……like many I have tried various products…..My son a daughter-in-law, purchased me an E-Cigarette kit for Christmas this year….it is the first time since I was 20yrs old that I have gone 4 days without a cigarette….I am taking it one day at a time, however, I am enjoying vaping and do not want a cigarette….vaping is more satisifying than a cigarette….thank you so very much to my son and his wife….

    • Gina says:

      I also smoked 42yrs. I started at age 12. I saw on my folder while at the doctor, I was listed as a Cronic smoker. I knew I was a horrible addict but that was just life, some people die some don’t. But seeing it written like that made an imprint in my head.
      Anyway when I saw the vapor cig and bought 4, I had 2 packs left in my carton, I told my son on Christmas morning, he was home from college for the holidays, that I quit for Christmas present so I can be clean of stinch and ashes when its time for granbabys. And here it is jan 20, I cant believe it myself, I’m done but I think I am still addicted just as bad to the ecig. But still I don’t have the filth of cigarettes. God bless us all.

      • Eric says:

        Congrats on making the switch! Getting rid of the filth of cigarettes is the easiest thing to notice, but just think of the benefit to your body as well! You were inhaling all of that junk every time your smoked. Don’t feel too bad about using the ecig a lot. The addiction to nicotine takes a while to overcome, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s the last thing to worry about.

  13. April says:

    I smoked for almost 30 years! Three and half years ago, I quit with the patch for a whole 8 weeks. About two months ago, I tried again and made it to the 3rd day. Three weeks ago, gave it another shot and failed the first day but I still wore the patch and smoked between 2-6 cigarettes a day for two weeks. Last Friday, I ripped off my patch and purchased my kit. Saturday I had less that 2 cigarettes. I haven’t smoked one since. I don’t even want one. I love vaping and I feel blessed that it is working for me. I went from 2 packs a day to none in less than 12 hours with 7 of those hours spent sleeping. Yay for me! I’m so proud of myself!

  14. Abby says:

    I started smoking when I enlisted in the army at 18, I was a non smoker before that. I am 28 now and have not had a single analog since I purchased my EVOD. I abso love vaping and I feel so much better since I’ve started vaping than I did when I smoked analogs. I can breathe easier, my chest don’t hurt and my sense of taste and smell have improved dramatically. It has been 36 days, 19 hrs and 11 mins since my last analog and 257 analogs that I haven’t smoked. I am thankful for vaping, it has probably saved me a lot of health issues that I would have had in the future, plus Vaping tastes so much beter. My fav juice so far is called Cinna-bun and it literally tastes just like cinnabon cinnamon rolls lol

  15. Fer says:

    Hi, I’ve been smoking since I was 15, and I am 21 now. I was a chain smoker, I smoke a 1-3 packs of smoke in just ONE SITTING. I switched into vaping recently. Ever since I tried vaping, I’ve noticed that I don’t have difficulty in breathing anymore, my throat don’t always hurt anymore, my drive increased that I could last a lot longer (IYKWIM) and I’m not feeling nauseous anymore.

    I stopped craving for cigarettes, I tried it again then I was like “wtf is this?” and I was coughing like crazy when I did.

    I’m glad that vaping came about. :)

    A big thanks to vaping. :)

  16. Scott says:

    I was a pack a day smoker for 30 years. I tried gum, lozenges, patches, even counseling and hypnotherapy. Nothing worked. My daughter got an ecig for Christmas 2012 and I was intrigued so I bought one. I was completely smoke free within a week. By this time last year (July) I would have smoked 4000 cigarettes. This year I’ve had two, both in January, and I haven’t had a craving since. In fact, I now find them repugnant. I hope they don’t try to over-regulate them. There’s enough government intrusion into our lives as it is. But the tax incentive will probably be too tempting when more people make the switch.

  17. rosie from uk says:

    Hi from the UK and was a 30-40 a day analogue smoker. I have tried on an off since I was 18 (51 now and started at 16) to quit using cold turkey , patches , gum etc and nothing worked. Tried the ciggie shaped ones and they didn’t work for me as they reminded me of a real cig too much and didn’t help.

    Went to our local shopping mall where they were selling E cigarettes with the juices and flavours, myself and hubby baught a kit between us and I have not touched one ciggie in a week , in fact he lit an analogue up to prove to himself they were gross, the smell of it make me wretch and he put it out and never touched one again. I use 2 flavours my cherry one which I use in the mornings as not over sweet and a flavour called excalibour which is very fruity which I use for the rest of the day. Mark uses one called Jester juice which is sherbetty and smells really yummy but too sweet for me.

    Worked out our savings not buying analogues and over 6,0000 english pounds a year (thats including new batteries for our devises and juices) New car, new carpets coming up

    • Eric says:

      Rosie, thanks so much for your story. We love to hear from those who have had success with electronic cigarettes. Your story may help one more person quit smoking, and that’s what we’re here for.

  18. paul says:

    hi ive been smoking since i was 14 and now 42 now been diagnosed with emthasymia and also now have amonia wohoo i have tried to give up and tried hymotheripy patches champex you name it ive tried it but i just enjoyed smoking too much and a freind brought me a eltronic cigaret and within 2 days i was off the roll ups wich i use to smoke 50 gramms in 2 days they even let me smoke it in the hospital ward after op ,all i can say is i wish i knew about them years ago the money and health that could have been saved and now have just gone out to buy one with a bigger battery and tank yipee
    thank you e cig id never have given up without you

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