Electronic cigarettes are being marketed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. But just how safe are e-cigarettes? Are there any health risks? Let’s examine electric smoking and compare it to “real” smoking so you can make an intelligent decision if this may be a wise smoking alternative for you.
The most harmful aspect of smoking cigarettes is the 4,000 toxic chemicals that are inhaled when you burn tobacco. It's the actual smoke that is causing lung cancer and respiratory disease, not the nicotine. With electronic smoking none of these 4,000 toxic chemicals are produced because there is no smoke... nothing is actually burning. No smoke means no tar, carbon monoxide, etc.
But what about the nicotine? E-cigarettes still deliver nicotine. How dangerous is that? More independent studies on the effects of nicotine by itself need to be done. Right now the health risks are still inconclusive. Nevertheless, it's obvious that a method of delivering nicotine that doesn't involve real smoke is going to be much safer than burning tobacco.
The FDA recently reported that traces of carcinogens where found in a sample of electronic cigarette nicotine liquid. However, these same carcinogens are also found in nicotine delivery alternatives like the patch and gum (which are both approved by the FDA). Also keep in mind that many every day foods like peanut butter contain trace levels of carcinogens. This is not to say that we should not be concerned about it. Just keep it in perspective. It's important to remember that the dose of a particular carcinogen is an important factor in it's toxicity. If carcinogens are present in e-cigarette vapor, it doesn't not appear to be in high doses. Right now there is no evidence that these carcinogens are are even translated into the actual electronic cigarette vapor that is inhaled.
Are electronic cigarettes totally safe? Until more studies are done it's probably a good idea to err on the side of caution and assume that they are not 100% safe. But when you compare it to "real" smoking there really is no comparison. One thing we know for sure is that tobacco smoking is incredibly dangerous, expensive and inconvenient. E-cigarettes give smokers an alternative that appears to be much safer and will probably save countless lives. Given a choice between the two? I think it's a no brainer.