A safer alternative to tobacco or a gateway for youth to become another generation hooked on nicotine? Depending on with whom you speak to regarding electronic cigarettes, you may get different answers. Since electronic cigarettes don’t have the hundreds of ingredients or the thousands of chemicals when burned, some can argue the product is safer than a traditional tobacco product. But unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, as they are commonly known, have candy flavorings which are banned in regular cigarettes. And they have a digital technology that may appeal to a youth population who have been raised with other digital products.
Did you know that many users of electronic cigarettes believe they safe to use? The truth is, no one can answer that question at this time because not enough research has been completed. Electronic cigarettes first entered the U.S. market in about 2007 and their newness means studies on their ingredients and the long-term health effects are still ongoing. Right now there is no regulation on the products by the FDA, although many states have passed laws banning the sale of the products to minors. The state list banning e-cigarettes was last updated on April 2014, but many states introduced legislation this spring to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and bring public use of e-cigarettes in line with that of traditional cigarettes.
Did you know that most e-cigarettes generally have three ingredients: propylene glycol, flavoring, and nicotine? Propylene glycol is a syrupy synthetic liquid that is colorless, slightly sweet and is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA. It is used in cosmetics such as soaps and shampoos, as a food addictive in cupcakes and soft drinks, and in medicines such as cough syrups and toothpaste. However, it is unknown what damage it can cause to the lungs when heated and inhaled, and researchers “have little information about what happens to propylene glycol in the air” in terms of secondhand vapor.
One reason why e-cigarettes are so popular is you can get a dose of nicotine in the flavoring of your choice. But did you know that while flavorings are food-grade, they are “by definition, not tested for inhalation?” One e-cigarette forum even stated their own caution about flavorings and warns users “there are no flavors known to be safe for inhalation.” Obviously they are protecting themselves from possible litigation, but it’s a precaution about flavorings e-cigarette users should heed.
Did you know the liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes is more powerful then the nicotine in regular cigarettes because it is absorbed by the body more quickly? Not only can the nicotine hook you into a lifetime of addiction, the liquid nicotine refills could poison you whether ingested by mouth or absorbed through your skin. Calls to poison control centers in 2013 saw a “300% increase from 2012.” The majority of the cases involve young children under 5 who are curious about the flavored, colored liquid in easy to open vials, like these pictured. According to a New York Times article, “a teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.” Did you also know that the e-liquids you buy to refill your electronic cigarette are not regulated by federal authorities? Anyone can make e-liquids and sell them at this point in time; there are no quality control measures in place. Meanwhile, the use of e-cigarettes by youth here in the U.S. has risen dramatically as the debate on the safety of e-products continues.
According to the data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, “e-cigarette experimentation and recent use doubled among U.S. middle and high school students during 2011–2012, resulting in an estimated 1.78 million students having ever used e-cigarettes as of 2012.” Scientists already know what addiction to nicotine can do to the human body. Combining nicotine with candy flavoring in e-cigarettes is turning our youth “back to the future,” into another nicotine addicted generation. The e-cigarette industry promotion of their products to our youth is an unconscionable act against the future health of our nation.
Click Smoke Screen: Are E-Cigarettes Safe? for the entire article.