Are electronic cigarettes a healthier substitute for normal cigarettes?

“If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started using e-cigarettes we would save five million deaths in people who are alive today. It’s a massive potential public health prize.” This is how J. Britton, a professor at The Royal College of Physicians in London starts his speech on electronic cigarettes. The truth regarding his statement remains uncertain.

General e-cigarette information

Despite the fact that in 1963 Herbert Gilbert patents a concept for electronic cigarettes, his idea never made it into production. In 2003, a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, working for the company “Golden Dragon Holdings”, invented the modern e-cigarette. His company started to market them abroad in 2005-2006. From the year 2007, this type of cigarettes are being produced and sold worldwide.

Working principle of ecigs

Electronic cigarettes are meant to simulate smoking and also to represent a healthier substitute for classic, tobacco cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

The e-cigarette has the form of an elongated tube, being designed to resemble a normal cigarette.

The majority of them are powered by a couple of small batteries, and their purpose is to produce nicotine or non-nicotine based steam or smoke, which is inhaled by the consumer. They are pretty similar to conventional cigarettes, so the brain is more or less tricked into thinking that they are classic cigarettes. Therefore, the biggest impact they have is on the psychological level.

The electronic cigarette is composed of three elements: a cartridge, in which there is a liquid impregnated sponge, an atomizer, the part that vaporizes the solution from the cartridge and battery, which activates automatically when the user inhales, powering the atomizer and the LED that imitates the glow.

A pressure sensor activates the battery when you inhale, sending power to the atomizer, who starts to become hot. Being forced by the warm produced, the liquid from the cartridge evaporates, creating the steam. The e-cigarette satisfies not only the nicotine addicted persons but also the ones that are addicted to the gesture.

The process of “vaping.”

Vaping is the name given to the use of a vaporizer or atomizer. It is the act of inhaling the vapor or the steam produced by electronic cigarettes.

All around the world, people started to look at the vapor resulted from smoking as a way of express themselves. So, “vaping” has become almost like a culture to some people, especially teenagers. Vaping tricks have become very hot stuff, and a whole competition of vaping has been started on the internet. People film themselves doing vaping tricks, and they upload the video to the web to see who achieve the biggest number of likes and shares.

There are also websites, bloggers, and vloggers from which you can learn how to do various tricks with the vapors.

The most common and easy trick is doing circles with the steam, but there are a lot of people who perfected the art of “vaping” and you can see them doing tornadoes, cannons, spheres and many others interesting shapes and tricks with the vapors or smoke that the majority of smokers simply blows it away.

Pro and cons

The medical researchers aren’t sure yet that the e-cigarette is a healthier substitute for smoking. The long-term data is lacking, and so, researchers cannot truthfully say that this is the right path that you should go on if you decide to quit smoking and gradually reduce nicotine consumption or if you seek for a long term cigarette replacement.

Only one study can say that long term impact from smoking conventional cigarettes is greater than the impact from e-cigarettes, because of the smoke produced by tobacco cigarettes.

Some people say that e-cigarettes are a better alternative to smoking, that they are a lot healthier and safer, not only for the smoker but also for the environment. Other people states that in fact, they are more destructive to your body that the regular ones. To form an opinion for ourselves, we should analyze their proven advantages and disadvantages.[1]

Advantages

Despite the fact that there are a few pieces of research made on the benefits of electronic cigarettes in comparison with regular ones, many people, especially electronic cigarettes producers and ever consumers are pointing out the fact that they are significantly better for your body than normal tobacco cigarettes. The regular ones are made using dangerous carcinogen substances such as tar and carbon monoxide, whereas e-cigarettes don’t use this sort of stuff. The producers firmly affirm that the e-liquid used to create the vapors are carefully selected and rigorous tested to ensure that the smoker benefits of a healthy and tasteful experience. They say that in the composition of the e-liquid enters a mix of nicotine, distilled water, vegetal glycerin and various flavors, but there have been numerous rumors that the producers avoid telling all the substances used to create e-cigarettes because some of them might be dangerous.

What might be the most obvious advantage of electronic cigarettes is the fact that they eliminate passive smoking. They only produce a sort of steam, called vapors and therefore all the people near you are not affected by it. It surely is a huge benefit, mainly for the others, because everybody would prefer an e-cigarette smoker near them over a regular one. That way you can spend more time with loved ones and at the same time you can enjoy your cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes can be used anywhere. Because they don’t produce that toxic smoke like regular ones, you are permitted to smoke this type of cigarettes in the majority of public places, even in places where smoking in restricted.

Another advantage is that the unbearable smell of smoke will not be a problem for you anymore. It will disappear forever from your house, car, clothes or hair. You won’t smoke with the window open anymore.

Last, but not least, e-cigarettes are eco-friendly. They can be easily recycled. Once they are no longer useful, you can take them to a recycling center, and the batteries to any battery collecting center. Moreover, the vapors produced are eco-friendly too. They are supposed not to contain any dangerous substance like carbon monoxide.

Also, you don’t need to carry a lighter with you all the time and always lose it when you need it, as usually happens.

Disadvantages

Firstly, we must say that, normally, the experts don’t recommend the use of e-cigarettes as a good alternative to quitting smoking. Some studies have shown that they have negative effects on the human body, and even more, they might contain toxic substances which affect the respiratory system in the long run.

There are a lot of critics, which don’t approve the way that electronic cigarettes are promoted, as a healthy alternative to smoking and even as a way of eliminating smoking from our lives. They say that this aggressive marketing, as they call it is compromising the attempts of the smokers to quit this bad habit, by tricking them into thinking that there is a golden mean in this matter, only to make a huge profit from them. The danger is real, and more of that, the biggest problem is that anybody can buy them, no matter the age. The flavors used are making e-cigarettes more appealing for young people, which have the tendency to be curious. It is a good probability that electronic cigarettes producers are using this thing in their favor. The solution will be to label them as pharmaceutical products and to sell then only by medical prescription.

As we pointed earlier, the long term effects of using electronic cigarettes are not completely known because simply there are not enough studies. But, it is known that toxic substances are used in making them, especially in making the flavors, but the producers simply don’t write all the ingredients on the product’s label.

More of that, studies have proven that some of the medical conditions which affect a lot of smokers are due to smoking electronic cigarettes and not regular ones. Among others, some examples of medical conditions are: a cough, irritated esophagus, dried mouth, risen blood pressure, deteriorated blood vessels, coronary diseases, and alteration of the cardiac rhythm.

A study made by the researchers from Portland State University, in Oregon, US had shown that e-cigarette might be fifteen times more dangerous than a tobacco cigarette.

Using a special inhaling device, the scientists discovered that on a high voltage, 5 volts, in that case, electronic cigarettes can lead to the formation of formaldehyde, a dangerous and powerful carcinogen substance, produced by the aromatic e-liquid. Normally, the e-cigarette produces only 3.3 volts, but if the user inhales more that he should, it can become very hot causing the electric resistance to malfunction and raising the voltage.

So, if you inhale the equivalent of 3 milliliters of very hot e-liquid, you absorb in your body approximately 14 milligrams of formaldehyde. In comparison, a regular smoker only absorbs 3 milligrams of this carcinogen substance.

If you notice that the vapors have gained a nasty, sour taste, you should probably not inhale them because that is a sigh that the e-liquid is too hot.

Electronic Cigarettes Price

Everybody can afford to buy an electronic cigarette. There is a great variety of them on the market regarding flavors, design or price. The range of prices starts at approximately 15 USD for a complete kit with reserves and flavors and can go up to 50 USD for those who are supposed to have a better quality. A kit with five small aromatic e-liquid bottles cost between 2 USD to 20 USD depending on the quality of the flavor.

Regulation

Because of a lack of legal regulation and the public concern regarding e-cigarettes side effects, countries like Canada, Australia, and Singapore have banned their marketing.

This general fear is not irrational because some of these products have no license and their marketing in not conditioned by many security standards. Also, there is very little known about the substances contained in them. They don’t have the same security standards as others nicotine based products such as chewing gums of nicotine patches. Although they are similar to regular cigarettes, the electronic ones are battery powered and usually made from stainless steel. So, even the members of the World Health Organization have shown their skepticism on the controversy on these seeming “healthy” cigarettes.

A spokesman for one of the biggest distributors of e-cigarettes stated that their company is looking forward to the legal regulation of their products. He affirmed that legal norms would help them to develop better and healthier products, designed to fit every consumer’s needs and therefore, a good legal regulation will help them to make even bigger profits.

Conclusion

Since its invention, in 2003, the electronic cigarette has divided the world into two sides. On one hand, there are the “followers”, “vapers” or how you want to call them, saying that they are a lot healthier than tobacco cigarettes. They are very enthusiastic about e-cigarettes, creating even a subculture. On the other side, there are scientists, doctors and other people who are a bit reluctant, because some studies have discovered some pretty toxic substances that will certainly harm you. Maybe in the future, when the governments of all countries will make a good and stable legal regulation for them, they will be produced using healthier substances, and so, they will have the approval of public opinion. As we saw, it’s also the producer’s interest to make healthier products because that way they will cover the various needs of people, and they will sell more.

Until then, if you want to quit smoking, or simply you want to find a substitute for nicotine, and you ignore as unfounded the concerns that in can be more dangerous than regular ones, electronic cigarettes can be the solution for you.

There is not a conclusive study which can say for sure that they are good or bad, it’s up to you to judge. You should experience them if you are interested because the response to them differs from a person to another. Some stated that it was good for them, or anyway, better than tobacco cigarettes, and others said that they got sick from them, but then again, there were no certain proves that is was all e-cigarettes fault.

Probably, in the future, when they will be regulated, and even labeled as a medicine, they will become a truly proven healthier alternative to smoking, because they are meant to become so.