Though the first version of an e-cigarette was an attempt made in 1963 by Herbert A. Gilbert, the electronic cigarette in the shape we know it today was patented by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, back in 2003. The products first appeared on the Chinese market, but they slowly became a huge success and overcame the limits of the country. In 2007 Hon Lik received the patent for international markets in 2007 and this allowed European and American smokers to try out the new type of smoking. Due to the fact that this device produces vapors, the action of smoking an e-cigarette is called “vaping.”[1]

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Electronic cigarettes have been a success in the recent years all around the world. Their purpose has been, at least in the beginning, to replace normal cigarettes. Even though there are several types of e-cigarettes on the market, all of them work in the same way: they contain a cartridge for liquids, flavorings and nicotine, battery and an element that produces heat. However, despite having the same basic system, there are variations: some of them allow users to recharge the battery or to refill the cartridges. Some of them are even disposable. [2]

Disadvantages of Using Electronic Cigarettes

Many people believe that electronic cigarettes are safer, but the nicotine inside them is as addictive as the one found in normal cigarettes.Moreover, it is as harmful as normal smoking, being potentially dangerous for people who suffer from heart issues. Scientists have proven that they also have a role in clogging the arteries in time. However, science could not offer conclusive evidence regarding the long-term effects, since e-cigarettes have only been on the market for some years. [3]

Opponents of electronic cigarettes say that they are as harmful as normal cigarettes since they also contain nicotine and can become addictive. One of the often encountered ingredients in e-cigarettes is propylene glycol. Many e-smokers reported feeling dehydrated after using the e-cigarette, and this is most likely the effect of this substance. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this, though a scientific argument could be the fact that propylene glycol has the ability to retain water.

Not having enough conclusive evidence so as to determine whether e-cigarettes are safe or not is a drawback. There are no long-term studies and this is an obstacle in the way of clearing the situation of electronic smoking. Moreover, it is not only about the substances contained in it, but also about the materials chosen for the actual device, what temperatures are used for vaporizing the liquid, how they are obtained and other such details.

Another con argument is the fact that there are no clear regulations regarding this type of cigarettes, probably because it is something relatively new. According to a study published in 2010 in Tobacco Control, this new entry into the market lacks regulations. They have no proper labels, no clear instructions on how to use them and no health warnings. Moreover, users do not receive instructions on how to dispose of them in a safe manner. The same study showed that many cartridges used for the electronic cigarettes have leaks, and if users do not dispose of them correctly, there might even be cases of intoxication with nicotine.

Vapers, which is another name for electronic cigarettes smokers, run the risk of having the devices exploding in their faces. CBS News reported in 2012 that a man had suffered serious injuries after the battery inside the device exploded during use. This incident affected his mouth, tongue, and teeth. There have also been many other similar incidents reported, but the sources are not official or trustworthy. However, people should be aware of the fact that this risk is present with any device running on batteries, not just electronic cigarettes.

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In December 2011 CHEST published a study that revealed e-cigarettes to affect the lungs within minutes from the first inhalation. Forty healthy people who did not smoke tried an e-cigarette for five minutes. After that, their lung capacity was tested and it was revealed that oxidative stress appeared, along with impedance and airway flow resistance. The study was not that conclusive since it only examined the effect after five minutes. For users who inhale from it several times a day, the risks could be even greater. However, if the electronic cigarette is used as a means of making quitting regular smoking easier, the risks are worth taking into consideration. [4]

Misleading publicity can also lead people to discover another downside of e-cigarettes. Many companies wrongfully market their products as having the same taste like the standard cigarettes. However, that particular taste is the result of burning tobacco, which is not the same process as the one involved in the electronic devices, namely vaporizing nicotine, among other ingredients. This might be an actual disadvantage for people who are looking to quit smoking. At the same time, this could also be an advantage, since it helps people slowly quit the old taste of normal cigarettes, thus making it easier for them to stop smoking altogether.

The taste brings up a different kind of issues for parents, for instance. In general, electronic cigarettes come in lots of flavors, and this might make them more appealing to children. The candy flavors could lead to teenagers and even children starting smoking from young ages. Moreover, since they do not have the typical smell of nicotine, their parents cannot realize whether they are vaping or not. The risks are worrying: just like the regular cigarettes, nicotine can interfere with healthy brain development for them, leaving permanent traces. [5]

Experts also raised a different issue when it comes to e-cigarette drawbacks: it still helps in creating an unhealthy habit. Though it may be healthier than regular smoking, according to some opinions, in time smoking becomes a hard-to-quit habit, regardless of what type of cigarette a person chooses. Though this contradicts in a way the argument that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, psychologists said that the mere gesture of smoking often throughout the day leads to this becoming a habit, regardless of the nicotine or the tobacco contained or not inside the cigarette. Moreover, people fear that this would be good publicity for smoking and it might make it seem more attractive to nonsmokers and youth.

Vaping can also prove to be inconvenient for smokers though. It is true that it takes a while before the regular smoker can adapt to the different experience of vaping (taste, feeling, duration etc). However, given the variety of electronic cigarettes nowadays, a smoker only has to choose one. In case the particular device he/she has selected breaks, they need to replace it with the same model since they got used to it, and there might be an issue, since there are not individual shops every corner, as it happens with regular cigarette packs. Moreover, not everybody is familiar with the method, so it might prove difficult for people of old age to switch to an electronic cigarette.

Scientists fear the dangers of “dual use” when it comes to cigarettes. Some people, instead of switching completely to e-cigarettes, might use them only in public places where they are not allowed to use their regular cigarettes. Back at home though, they might continue with the old habit of lighting up a regular tobacco one. This combination might prove to be more dangerous and in any case, it would not help smokers quit or at least cut back on their habit. This, in the context of not having enough scientific information, can be a collateral risk that people worldwide might not be aware of. Combining both types of smoking may lead to a new cocktail of harmful substances with unknown effects.

Advantages of Using Electronic Cigarettes

There are some advantages of these electronic cigarettes too. Perhaps the main one is the fact that it helps people quit smoking regular cigarettes. It still offers the nicotine smoking addicts need, but without the carcinogens usually found in them. Up until now, the other ingredients used for the liquid in e-cigarettes do not seem to cause cancer. Generally, besides nicotine, companies use vegetal glycerin, flavors and propylene glycol. Though propylene glycol might present some health risks, these ingredients are not as dangerous as the ones found in regular cigarettes: ammonia, tar, carbon monoxide, acetone, arsenic or cyanide. For this reason, they are widely seen as being safer and healthier, along with being a good way of quitting smoking. However, this conclusion is not a definitive one, since there are no long-term studies of its effects.

Another advantage of electronic cigarettes is the fact that people can use them everywhere. Since they do not produce actual smoke, they are usually allowed in places where smoking normal cigarettes are banned. Most indoor areas allow e-cigarettes, but it is best to ask for permission before using one. Since the type of smoke produced by them cannot be detected, people can smoke in cars, hotel rooms, bars and restaurants without breaking the rules. Moreover, this helps people who work cut off smoking breaks and probably become more productive.

There is also a financial advantage for this new type of cigarettes. Vaping is more cost-effective than regular smoking, as many people believe. Indeed, if a person would quit smoking, they might save minimum $2,000 a year. Meanwhile, the liquid refills required by an electronic cigarette reaches around $20 a week, and the initial cost for the starter kit is also small. For this reason, many people have started in the recent years to replace normal cigarettes with e-smoking, and many reported that it was a more economical way of receiving their nicotine dose.

Public health is another domain where e-cigarettes seem to have a great impact. With vaping, there is no second-hand smoke, reason for which it is allowed everywhere. As such, nonsmokers do not inhale the smoke unwillingly and dangerously. Many people who suffer from allergies or other conditions are unhappy with the fact that second-hand smoke is found everywhere. As such, vaping saves people of the unpleasant smell, the foggy air indoor in places where it is allowed to smoke and the stains found on the clothes and the skin of smokers. Instead, electronic cigarettes only produce a vapor that is subtly scented and barely detectable. It only resides for a couple of seconds and it does not stay in the clothes, hair or skin. Not to mention that many people enjoy the flavored vapor released by the vapors.

E-cigarettes also come in a much larger variety than regular ones. Though there are indeed regular cigarettes with mint, lemon or fruit flavors, these are fewer than vaping offers. Since they rely on liquids, it is easier to add and combine various essences to obtain new and pleasant tastes. This enables vapers to choose whatever flavor they prefer, which is an advantage. Besides picking the favorite scent, people also have the option of choosing what amount of nicotine they want inside their e-cigarettes. This is particularly helpful in the case of individuals who want to quit since they can start with a higher dosage and gradually lower it, thus making the quitting process easier and more pleasant.

Perhaps one of the most effective benefits of electronic cigarettes is the fact that it boosts the user’s self-image. More often than not, people who smoke, though seen as cool, are discriminated. The smell makes them self-conscious, as well as having to step outside often to get their dose of nicotine. Moreover, many people usually tend to judge and criticize smokers, sometimes even openly, for having this habit and not being able to quit, for wasting money on it and for not caring enough for their health. All this may lead to a deeply rooted negative self-image and for sure too many other issues. Vaping removes many of those concerns: the smell will disappear, the vapor will still manage to get the much-needed nicotine while switching to a healthier life. Also, because the liquid contained in the cartridges does not contain as many damaging substances as normal cigarettes, vaping will not affect your hair and skin as much as the regular type of smoking does. This will result in a better-looking image and more self-confidence.

Besides the benefits for the body, an electronic cigarette is safer for the environment too. There have been lots of reported cases with people falling asleep with their lit cigarette in their hand, thus setting themselves and their house on fire. Vaping is based on vaporizing scented liquid through an electronic device. This technique is much safer than lighting a regular cigarette since there is no fire or combustion involved in the process. As such, vaping is much safer for a smoker’s house and their integrity and health.

Vaping also seems to be more practical than regular smoking. Not just because of the financial reasons, as explained above, but also because people are not wasting their supplies. The liquid found inside is only used when the person is inhaling, which is different than with regular cigarettes that, once lit, continue burning and wasting away. Meanwhile, it is inconvenient to light up a cigarette and then forget about it or to put it off and then re-light it.

Sources   [ + ]

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-02-07-long-term-vaping-far-safer-than-smoking-says-landmark-study/
2. http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/electronic-cigarettes
3. http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/electronic-cigarettes
4. https://www.verywell.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-e-cigarettes-915015
5. http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/electronic-cigarettes?page=2