Are E-Cigarettes Truly Safer Than Tobacco?

Electronic cigarettes were designed to offer a smoking experience without the health downsides of tobacco. The kits include all the components needed to start using the e-cigarette, and some manufacturers offer flavored e-liquids to enhance vaping. Buying spare cartridges can be less expensive than buying the equivalent number of cigarette packs.

The rationale behind this electronic device means that those addicted to nicotine should benefit from switching from tobacco to vaping, and e-cigarettes may also help smokers quit the habit. Its popularity is growing at an exponential rate owing to economic factors and the popular belief that vaping is safer than tobacco smoking. However, scientific evidence doesn’t paint a much better picture: e-cigarettes can also be harmful to health and the real extent of their potential effects remains unknown.

Unknown dangers

One of the most unsettling aspects is the lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of vaping. This stems from the fact that it is difficult to make an accurate assessment about the general health risks of vaping. Manufacturers have created a huge variety of flavors, and each of them can impart different health risks owing to the different chemicals involved. The nature and extent of the potential health risks of vaping have only recently began to surface.

According to the University of Salford, menthol and butterscotch flavors have the potential to cause lung damage in long-term e-cigarette users. In this study, scientists tested several flavors and cautioned about the unknown risks present in the large quantity of unregulated and untested e-liquids under heating conditions.

In another study carried out at the Portland State University, US, scientists discovered that certain e-cigarette devices can cause the formation of benzene – a carcinogen chemical compound – in the vapors. Other toxic chemicals detected in significant amounts in e-cigarette vapors include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.

Risks of addiction

Furthermore, while vaping may help people quit tobacco smoking, it doesn’t actually treat nicotine addiction. It can cause new users to become addicted to the substance, promoting new unhealthy habits/behaviors: teen vapers are more likely to initiate tobacco smoking than non-vapers. And even the role of nicotine itself in the development of cancer is a matter of ongoing research.

A safer alternative to tobacco?

According to a recent study by the European Society of Cardiology, the promotion of e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to tobacco is potentially misleading. Researchers found that regular e—cigarette smokers were more likely to have higher levels of adrenaline in the heart and displayed stronger symptoms of oxidative stress compared to non-smokers. In other words, the findings suggest that vaping has long-term implications for cardiovascular health.