Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

E-cigarettes: No smoke, no danger?

Date:
April 2, 2014
Source:
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Summary:
Smokers turn to e-cigarettes to ease nicotine withdrawal, or to avoid harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. But many use e-cigarettes in public spaces and regular cigarettes everywhere else. Quitting half-way won’t help. And researchers do not know that smokeless vapor is safe. E-cigarettes create an inhalable nicotine vapor by heating a liquid nicotine solution. While there are many different e-cigarette devices on the market, the basic parts of a typical device include a battery, a cartridge with nicotine (and possibly flavoring), and a heater that vaporizes the nicotine to be inhaled.

E-cigarette.
Credit: Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Some believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking tobacco since e-cigarette vapor doesn't contain the chemicals found in tobacco smoke. But we don't know a lot about the safety of these products, and long- term health risks from using e-cigarettes will not be known for many years. Norris Cotton Cancer Center researchers take a look at what we know about e-cigarettes and health.

E-cigarettes: how they work

E-cigarettes create an inhalable nicotine vapor by heating a liquid nicotine solution. While there are many different e-cigarette devices on the market, the basic parts of a typical device include a battery, a cartridge with nicotine (and possibly flavoring), and a heater that vaporizes the nicotine to be inhaled by the user. When the user puffs on the end of the device and creates a vacuum, a battery powers the heater and creates vapor, which then goes into a chamber. The vapor is drawn out of the end of the device and inhaled into the lungs.

Most e-cigarette devices are engineered to look like a cigarette, and they are used like a cigarette. Many even have a tip that lights up when a person is inhaling. Using an e-cigarette is called vaping. There is also a newly developing market for "e-Hookahs" or vaporizer pens for individuals who vaporize other substances such as herbs, marijuana, marijuana oils, and hashish waxes. These devices have the same mechanisms and risks as e-cigarettes.

Are all e-cigarettes the same?

No. E-cigarettes were invented by a pharmacist in China, and many of the first generation products continue to be produced there. There are now more than 400 e-cigarette devices in the U.S. market, including some manufactured in the U.S., and the newer products differ from the original. Early results suggest that the newer designs may be more like a cigarette, getting nicotine deeper into the lung with quicker absorption into the blood stream. This makes them more addictive, but may also make them a better substitute for cigarettes. The newest vaporizer pens are technically similar to an e-cigarette, but the contents of the cartridges, or what is consumed in the refills, likely varies dramatically from that in a "traditional" e-cigarette.

Will e-cigarettes help me quit?

Many people are purchasing e-cigarettes to use when trying to quit smoking, but we do not have good evidence that people quit smoking completely by using e-cigarettes. Using e-cigarettes can encourage "dual use:" smoking cigarettes and using e-cigarettes. Many will use e-cigarettes where smoking tobacco is not allowed, and smoke tobacco at other times. Since stopping smoking completely is the only way to limit the health consequences of smoking, we need to know if e-cigarettes help people quit or if they help more people put off quitting.

E-cigarettes, e-Hookahs, and vaporizers are completely unregulated by any agency, so their safety and effectiveness has not been tested. No one can say that they are safer than other tobacco products (such as non-combusted tobacco products). This is one major reason why public health officials are reluctant to tell people to use them.

Since the quality of each device may vary, and the nicotine dose that an individual user may receive varies with the brand, battery charge level, "e-juice," and experience of the user, it is hard to know how well any particular device works or what the user is inhaling. We have little information about the safety of vapors like propylene glycol when they are heated and directly inhaled, rather than eaten or used on the skin. The safety of many of the inhaled flavorings in the e-cigarette liquid is also not known; heating these flavorings could create new chemicals and byproducts. We don't know how safe it is to breathe "second hand vapor."

What are the dangers of using e-cigarettes?

Smokers considering e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking face a difficult personal choice. No public health official is going to issue a statement endorsing e-cigarette use for stopping smoking anytime soon. Yet, in theory, the exclusive use of e-cigarettes could be safer than smoking.

These theoretical benefits will be awarded to someone who uses e-cigarettes to completely quit smoking all products that burn tobacco -- cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and pipes. Anyone who uses e-cigarettes and continues to use those other products is unlikely to greatly lower their risk of heart attack, cancer, or chronic lung disease. There are other forms of medicinal nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that have been used for 17 years to help smokers quit. We know that these products help people successfully quit tobacco. Until we know more about e-cigarettes, these medicinal NRT products, combined with help from quit counselors or friends and family who have quit can help you become a non-smoker without tackling the remaining questions of e-cigarette safety.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "E-cigarettes: No smoke, no danger?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402111556.htm>.
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. (2014, April 2). E-cigarettes: No smoke, no danger?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402111556.htm
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "E-cigarettes: No smoke, no danger?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402111556.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins