The debate about e-cigarette safety

Unfortunately, it seems that the anti-smoking campaigns that have been so successful have backfired, at least regarding E- Cigarettes. While it's not technically smoking, "vaping" other wise known as using an electronic cigarette is a whole new way to bring nicotine and other chemicals into one's body. Bellingham has joined the craze with a host of vape stores selling e-cigarettes throughout the city, and they are fast growing in popularity across the country, especially with younger age groups. Some people seem to think they are safer than smoking tobacco, but others believe it's just another way of delivering cancer-causing chemicals, along with a few unique risks e-cigarettes pose.

What's in these, and why are the considered safe?

The ingredients in e-cigarettes can vary. Typically, they contain nicotine, glycerin, and "flavoring agents" which flavor the vapor. They've also been found to contain other known cancer-causing agents, such as an ingredient typically found in antifreeze, according to the American Lung Association. According to an article from the University of California - San Francisco summarizing various e-cigarette studies, second hand vapor delivers toxins to those who breathe it in. Formaldehyde, benzene, acetic acid, and other toxins have been found in the exhaled vapor, though at lower levels than conventional cigarettes. Officially, they are not considered safe - the FDA does not regulate them at this time. You might be wondering why there are no cancer warnings, if e-cigarettes contain known cancer-causing ingredients. Still, the FDA is waiting for enough evidence to issue regulations on the e-cigarette industry. Meanwhile, more and more users are coming out to say they've experienced harmful side effects and are worried that they might have been exposed to cancer-causing ingredients despite the manufacturers' assurances that the products are safe. 

What are the risks?

No studies show problems from long-term use yet because the product simply hasn't been around for very long. However, the cartridges themselves are potentially dangerous. This article lists multiple instances of the lithium battery in the cartridge exploding, causing fires, burns, and other damage. Also, synthetic nicotine is highly concentrated; drinking just a teaspoon can be fatal to a child. With flavors like cherry and chocolate, you can bet kids are curious to give it a taste. Some manufacturers have been sued for damages after batteries have exploded, and you can imagine that more lawsuits are on the way.

 

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