In a few short years electronic cigarettes have gone from a mere novelty to a nearly billion-dollar industry. Promoted as a safe alternative to traditional tobacco-burning cigarettes, news outlets have begun releasing stories that question the safety of e-cigs. These articles are frequently heavy on sensationalism and light on facts. Here are five of the most common myths about e-cigarettes and the actual truth.
Myth #1: Electronic cigarettes contain some of the same cancer causing ingredients as tobacco cigarettes.
Truth: Tobacco-burning cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemical compounds, over 70 known carcinogens, and kill approximately 443,000 people each year. E-cigs only contain 4-5 ingredients, all of which are recognized by the FDA as safe for human consumption. Reports that claim e-cigs contain carcinogens frequently cite a French study that found “trace amounts” of carcinogens in “some” e-liquids. However, this study was of Chinese-made e-liquids. which are known for not having the same quality controls as e-liquids manufactured in the United States. Similar studies of American-made e-liquids have shown that e-cigs do not contain carcinogens.
What to do: Always purchase your e-liquids from vendors that use only American-made e-liquids.
Myth #2: There have been no FDA studies on the health effects of electronic cigarettes.
Truth: The FDA evaluated the safety of electronic cigarettes in 2009 and published its results. The study detected the presence of trace amounts of “tobacco specific nitrosamines” in some samples, but concluded that their concentrations were comparable to other smoking-cessation aids, and were similarly the result of the nicotine distillation process.
What to do Once again, always purchase from vendors that use USA-made e-liquids. If you have concerns specifically about tobacco-specific nitrosamines, look for a vendor that uses only pharmaceutical-grade nicotine from reputable sources.
Myth #3: Nicotine is dangerous, and therefore so are electronic cigarettes.
Fact: Nicotine, while addictive, is not harmful when consumed in moderation. Nicotine is a stimulant similar to caffeine and appears in most FDA-approved smoking-cessation aides. If the nicotine itself was dangerous, the FDA would not have approved it in those other methods.
What to do: As it is addictive you might want to avoid nicotine. Choose e liquids with lower nicotine concentrations, or slowly wean yourself altogether and select nicotine-free liquids.
Myth #4: Electronic cigarettes contain the same ingredients as the antifreeze used in cars.
Truth: This common myth comes from confusing two similar chemicals. The antifreeze used in cars contains a chemical called Diethylene Glycol. This chemical is quite toxic for human consumption. Alternately, e-cigarettes contain Propylene Glycol, which is FDA-approved for human consumption. While the names are similar, they are two very different chemicals. Proplyene glycol is recognized as safe by the FDA, even when ingested in large quantities. It’s found in asthma therapy medicines, toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balm, and many other products we use and consume every day.
What to do: It’s rare, but some electronic cigarette users have an allergy to propylene glycol. If you think you might be allergic to it, ask your e-liquid vendor to use a 100% vegetable base. You can order these types of e liquids from multiple reputable vendors.
Myth #5: E-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco smoking, and the flavors they come in are made to appeal to teens.
Truth: Rather than acting as a “gateway” to smoking, e-cigarettes are helping longtime smokers to quit smoking. The fact that e-cigarettes replicate the sensation of smoking, including the vapor, makes them an extremely effective smoking-cessation aide. The variety of flavors that are offered appeal to adults and are not targeted at teens. Most vendors already restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes to adults over the age of 18. This “think of the children” argument rests on the flawed assumption that, for reasons unknown, adults don’t like sweet, fruity, or dessert-like flavors. It takes little more than a quick look inside the pantries belonging to most adults in America to demolish that presumption.
What to do: Be conscientious of the way you use and discuss e-cigarettes around teens. Information and education will lead everyone to better decision making. When discussing this aspect with adults, it may not hurt to remind them that some vapers who were once heavy smokers vape e-liquids that are nicotine free.
Due to how quickly vapor has become popular there is a lot of misinformation floating around out there. Sharing the truth is an important step for the vapor community as a whole. Remember, always check your sources and keep your ears open for new information.