What are e-cigarettes ?
An e-cigarette is a vaporizer that simulates smoking without tobacco consumption. A product like this could therefore help smokers to quit. The use of electronic cigarettes is on the rise, while tobacco sales are dropping. But before we get carried away about wiping out tobacco, we should remember that e-cigarettes are not totally risk-free.
Smoking an e-cigarette is also known as vaping, as you inhale a vapor instead of cigarette smoke. This lukewarm liquid is made up of water, glycerol, propylene glycol, flavorings and the desired amount of nicotine. As no combustion takes place, e-cigarettes are considered less dangerous than tobacco. For example, the presence of nitrosamines, which are known to be carcinogenic, is reduced by 97% compared to traditional cigarettes.
Invented in the early 2000s, e-cigarettes really took off from 2010 onwards. Smokers are attracted by their lack of smell and lower cost. But especially the lower health risks, due to there being no tar or carbon monoxide in the product. Many doctors advise smokers to try e-cigarettes in order to reduce tobacco consumption or completely stop smoking.
But e-cigarettes have also come in for criticism. With a wide range of models on sale, and some users creating their own vaping liquid, you can easily end up with a bad-quality product. And most vaping liquids continue to contain nicotine, which is one of the most addictive legal substances out there.
There have at least been some studies across the world over the last ten years. A lot of scientists have backed the e-cigarette. Actually, 35% of vapers have successfully quit smoking, so we’re talking about millions of deaths potentially prevented. On the other hand, there has been proof that inhaling vaping liquids can damage immune system cells. Experts have pointed out that flavorings contain chemical substances and ultrafine particles. You’ve got diacetyl for example, which is deemed as toxic when inhaled. You’ve also got the coil that heats the vaping liquid, right. Some devices allegedly give off heavy metals when that happens, like lead, chromium or nickel.
So for a while some health organisations had been recommending e-cigarettes to help quit smoking. But then the World Health Organisation comes along and really throws the cat among the pigeons in July 2019. The WHO basically came out advising against using e-cigarettes, saying they are “undoubtedly harmful”. What’s more, they also warned that the tobacco industry has been misinforming the general public on the subject. In the WHO’s opinion, the use e-cigarettes should be regulated around the world.
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