Over the past several decades, one could be forgiven for assuming that tobacco usage was on its way out, as the number of users in the United States has been in decline for quite some time. While this may be the case for traditional tobacco products, a brand new category has recently emerged on the scene: electronic cigarettes. Alternately known as “e-cigs” and “vapes,” these devices vaporize liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals for the user to inhale. Although electronic cigarettes are generally considered to be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, there have been incidents of them exploding and causing fire and injury, which has led to several lawsuits.
Benefits over Traditional Cigarettes
The general consensus in the medical and regulatory community is that electronic cigarettes are not completely without risk, but they are much healthier than traditional cigarettes. In 2015, the United Kingdom’s Public Health England published a study that found e-cigarettes may be 95% less dangerous to human health than smoking tobacco. The UK’s Royal College of Physicians subsequently recommended that e-cigarettes be used specifically as smoking cessation devices.Another study by University College London found that e-cigarettes are “far safer and less toxic than smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes.” The study examined toxin levels in saliva and urine from smokers and e-cigarette users. Smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes reportedly exhibited “significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens compared to people who continued to smoke tobacco cigarettes.” While the amount of toxic chemicals in electronic cigarettes is lower than traditional cigarettes, they are still present. A 2014 study found that nearly 75 percent of 159 e-liquid samples contained concentrations of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, both chemicals that have been associated, when inhaled, with respiratory diseases.