Like traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes contain harmful chemicals
If you believe that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because they contain fewer chemicals, you're partly right. Yes, e-cigarettes have fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes (with around 8,000 byproducts identified), BUT that doesn't mean that they contain no harmful chemicals. The oils designed to vaporize when heated by the battery-powered circuit contain substances that are new, with unknown long-term effects.
Even if you're using factory-sealed cartridges that don't have nicotine, you're still exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals.
What we do know is this:
- Many toxic chemicals have been found in e-cigarettes, including cancer-causing toxins and heavy metals.
- From 2019-2020, 68 people died and numerous others were hospitalized in the U.S. in a lung injury (EVALI) outbreak. The outbreak was likely caused by e-cigarettes that contained the chemical vitamin E acetate. It appears that in nearly all cases, the cause were contaminated cartridges that included THC. Still, there are unknown factors to fully explain those severe cases.
- E-liquid makers state that their products only contain food-grade chemicals (or chemicals considered safe for consumption) but don't point out that "safe for consumption" means safe to eat or drink — not specifically safe to inhale. In fact, two food-grade chemicals found in most e-liquids — propylene glycol and diacetyl — can damage your airways and lungs when inhaled through an aerosol.
Electronic cigarettes with nicotine are just as addictive as other tobacco products
The nicotine in e-cigarettes is the same as the nicotine in traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, cigars, hookah tobacco and non-combusted cigarettes. It's just as addictive. Sometimes, e-cigarettes can deliver even more nicotine than tobacco products.
Nicotine addiction is harmful because:
- Nicotine affects your blood circulation and heart in ways that contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attack.
- All products that contain nicotine, including e-cigarettes, contain additional chemicals that can damage your lungs or cause cancer.
- If you're pregnant, nicotine can damage your baby's development, particularly the brain and lungs.
- If you're a teen, nicotine can hurt your brain development. Your brain isn't fully developed in adolescence, and nicotine use has been reported to alter impulse control or mood disorders as well as attention and learning problems.
On top of the risks to your health, a nicotine addiction is also expensive.
If you're considering switching from combustion cigarettes to vaping to cut down on your nicotine addiction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you talk to your doctor first about smoking cessation. One of our dedicated programs will provide guidance and various resources such as smoking-cessation medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration. E-cigarettes were not approved by the FDA until very recently and, therefore, have not yet become part of the smoking cessation armamentarium. It is important to notice that the FDA recently approved one specific brand and type of e-cigarette, with the rest to be reviewed.
If you don't use tobacco products, please don't think vaping is a healthier alternative. You might not smell like cigarettes or get yellow teeth and fingernails, but you'll still get addicted to nicotine and expose yourself — and those around you — to potentially harmful chemicals.
Dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking may increase your odds of heart disease
According to the CDC, many people start vaping to quit smoking. But they end up using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes together (called dual use).
If you're in this group, know that you might be putting yourself at a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease. A 2019 study found that dual users of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes had significantly higher odds of developing heart disease than people who only smoked traditional cigarettes.
If you want to quit smoking, don't turn to vaping as a substitute. The possible health risks associated with dual use aren't worth it. Talk to your doctor instead about healthier ways to quit.
If you're a young person, vaping leads you to cigarette smoking
According to government reports, evidence shows that e-cigarette use in youth may lead to cigarette smoking in the future. This is often called "gateway" devise. Often, young and unsuspecting individuals pick up an e-cigarette without nicotine. Attractive "flavors" such as strawberry or crème-brulee are available with nicotine only, in many cases, "hooking" that youngster onto nicotine addiction. Over time the dose gets increased to achieve the desired effects until it reaches combustion-level cigarettes. This is a tragic sequence of events that has the exact opposite effect than what the e-cigarettes are "designed" for. It is important to note that only about 15% of vaping use is intended as smoking cessation with the remining 85% accounting for casual recreational use by young individuals.
Smoking cigarettes is one of the most harmful activities you can do against your health. It causes many diseases, hurting nearly every organ system in your body.
If you care to avoid the certain future health problems associated with smoking and using nicotine, don't pick up an e-cigarette.
Vaping is a business — and you're a pawn
Although e-cigarette businesses market their products as a healthier alternative to smoking, these businesses don't thrive on your health. They thrive on your money.
The simple fact is, most e-cigarettes contain addictive nicotine. And even though they're less harmful than smoking, they're not a good choice for your body.If you need help managing stress or want to quit smoking, The Christ Hospital Health Network offers several resources that are better (and healthier) than vaping. Learn about our smoking cessation resources or make an appointment with a primary care provider. We're here to help you through it all.