E-juice is better for you than a cigarette, but the evidence we have so far says it still poses significant risks to your health.
E-juice is a liquid containing nicotine and propylene glycol. The juice is heated to the point of vaporization in an electronic cigarette and breathed into the lungs. Electronic cigarettes are commonly marketed as a safe alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes - a method of smoking that’s less harmful to your health and the health of others around you.
E-cigarettes are safer than their non-electronic counterparts, but there's a growing body of evidence showing that they’re not entirely safe. The main components of e-juice are nicotine and propylene glycol. The FDA has approved propylene glycol for use as a food additive. Little research has been done as to whether it's safe to breathe as vapor. We still don't know what the medium- or long-term consequences of heavy e-juice consumption are.
The American Lung Cancer Association reports that lab tests by the FDA found detectable levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals like antifreeze in the products of two leading e-juice manufacturers. Flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes are typically approved for use in food; like propylene glycol, we still do not know if they're safe in the lungs. Diacetyl, a flavoring agent used in some e-juices, tastes like popcorn. It can also cause a painful and irreversible lung disease known as "popcorn lung."
Nicotine can cause serious harm to a developing fetus. Never use e-cigarettes while pregnant. It can also alter adolescent brain development. E-cigarette use jumped ten percent in teens between 2010 and 2011; if you're younger than 21, using nicotine products - including e-juice - is particularly bad for you.
E-cigarette vapor is often marketed as a safe alternative to the smoke in cigarettes. The vapor they produce, however, isn't just water vapor; e-juice vapor contains levels of nicotine, particulates, and toxic additives that pose a risk to the user and bystanders both. E-cigarette vapor is less harmful than conventional cigarette smoke, but it’s not entirely safe. In the lab, it’s been shown to restrict respiratory function and reduce lung capacity. Those exposed to secondhand vapor may experience these effects as well.
E-juice delivers a fraction of the nicotine in a cigarette. When used in combination with cigarettes, there’s a chance that e-cigs might prolong conventional cigarette use. Puffing on an e-cig between packs of conventional cigarettes could reduce the financial and physical strain of smoking, making a smoking habit more viable. There's also a possibility that young users who start with e-cigarettes may eventually switch to conventional cigarettes. Because of these possibilities, it's not yet clear whether or not e-cigs are a viable method to help people quit smoking and bring down cigarette use overall.
In some cases, e-cigarettes have exploded or caused fires. Other users have reported nausea, throat irritation and coughing from heavy use.
- Never use while pregnant
- Can interfere with adolescent brain development
- Risk of fire or explosion
Possible short-term side effects
- throat irritation
- reduced lung capacity
Possible long-term side effects
Ingredients to be aware of
- carcinogens / toxic chemicals
- propylene glycol
- may help in quitting tobacco
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Written by Sean McNulty | 09-24-2016
Written by Sean McNulty
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