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Health Topics

5 Things You Should Know About E-Cigarettes and Vaping

By DuPage Medical Group Pulmonary Medicine

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are a popular new nicotine delivery system. These devices allow users to inhale an aerosol (vapor) that contains nicotine or another substance. Many people believe that e-cigarette vaping is not considered smoking, and is a good alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes. Even though e-cigarettes have been on the market for several years there has been very little scientific research done and overall, vaping has unknown individual and public health effects.

Here are 5 things you should know about e-cigarettes and vaping before picking up a new habit.

1. E-Cigarettes & the FDA
  • In 2014 the FDA proposed requirements for e-cigarettes, nicotine gels and dissolvable tobacco under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Under these regulations manufacturers would be required to disclose all ingredients in their products, and have FDA approval before going to market.
  • In May 2016, the FDA announced that beginning in August 2016 it will limit e-cigarette sales to minors and require new health warnings on products. Those that do not submit for evaluation will have their products removed from the market.
  • There are nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, all without evaluation to know what’s in them.
  • Concentrations of nicotine vary widely from brand to brand, and even cartridge to cartridge.
2. Poisoning Concern with Liquid Nicotine and Preservatives
  • One teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness. As e-cigarette products have become more popular, the CDC and Poison Control Centers have reported a rise in exposures in young children.
  • Currently liquid nicotine packing (e-liquid) is not required to have childproof packaging.
  • Though less than cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, particularly in high voltage devices.
3. Secondhand Smoke Still a Concern
  • While e-cigs work differently than cigarettes, they still have one thing in common: second-hand smoke.
  • Advertisers claim that the secondhand vapor is harmless water vapor, but this vapor has been shown to contain nicotine, toxins, metals and cancer causing chemicals. There is no evidence that shows e-cigarettes emissions (secondhand aerosol) are safe for non-users to inhale.
  • Currently, certain states and communities have prohibited e-cigarette usage in the same places where smoking is already prohibited.
4. Harmful Effects on Your Body
  • Researchers find that e-cig smokers experience diminished lung function, airway resistance and cellular changes. In a lab setting, cells exposed to e-cig vapor show similar unhealthy changes to tobacco smoke.
5. E-cigarettes Are Popular with Youth
  • E-cigarettes have become especially popular among young people; especially with many flavors being sweet this makes them more appealing to this age group.
  • There are fewer restrictions when buying e-cigs compared to cigarettes depending on your location, making them more accessible to youth.
  • According to the CDC, in just one year e-cigarette usage has tripled among middle school and high school students. E-cigarette usage has now surpassed youth cigarette smoking as well as usage of all other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes are a very new product, thus largely unstudied and unregulated. Do not assume this lack of study suggests a lack of harm. While the government and FDA work to get more control and testing done on e-cigarette products, weigh the pros and cons before considering use of e-cigarettes. 


Topics and Subtopics: Addiction , General Health & Respiratory Problems


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