Electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes) use nicotine based liquid which is vaporized, inhaled and used as a nicotine substitute. This has become very popular with actors including Leonardo diCaprio, Johnnie Depp, Kate Moss and Lindsey Lohan. Many are questioning the safety of this new smoking alternative.

Regulations:

Idaho bans sale of E-cigarettes to children under 18. However, E-cigarettes have youthful flavors like “bubble gum”. I don’t know about you, but the last time “bubble gum” flavor was appealing to me was when I was 10 years old. So, who is the intended consumer of vaping? There is some concern that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to smoking by young people. There has been a strong campaign against smoking as a deadly habit. Now vaping products are being targeted to young people as a highly palatable and accessible alternative.

Are E-cigarettes harmful? Larger E-cigarettes known as tank systems heat the nicotine liquid hot enough to product cancer-causing carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Human bronchial cells exposed to vaping demonstrate the same pattern found with combustible tobacco smoke. Since amounts of nicotine are not standardized, people vaping might be exposed to markedly higher doses of nicotine because they are unaware of their usage (a cigarette is a known and timed unit of nicotine vs. almost continual inhalation of many “vapers”).

Side effects? Users of E-cigarettes complain of headache, cough, dizziness, sore throat, nose bleeds, chest pain, heart palpitations and allergic reactions.

Vaping as a way to stop smoking has no solid research. E-cigarettes have an uncontrolled amount of nicotine in the liquid and labeling does not currently disclose additional fillers and flavors. The FDA plans to wait 2 years before enforcing warning labels requiring manufacturers to submit product applications. In the meantime, new products are permitted to enter the market.

My advice, avoid nicotine in all its forms.

Source JAMA August 13, 2014, 312(6):595-596.