When the electronic cigarette, commonly referred to as the e-cigarette first emerged, the idea of a harmless yet satisfying alternative to traditional cigarettes seemed exciting. Smokers who wanted to quit saw the electronic devices as a means to finally kicking a bad habit. Many non-smokers initially saw the contraptions as a risk-free substitute for cigarettes as well--one that didn’t carry the consequences of secondhand smoke.
However, that didn't last as the use of the e-cigarette in public places increased. Non-users began complaining about the faint odor of the vapor and voiced concerns about whether or not the “smoke” emitted from these electronic devices was actually safe. Some smokers who had been using the devices to help curb their addiction to cigarettes found themselves wondering the same thing as well.
One of the initial problems encountered when assessing the supposed safety of e-cigarettes was a lack of research. As with any new product, it can take time before conclusive evidence regarding safety rolls in. Now, evidence shows that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as people thought. These are the main five culprits:
1. Lung Irritation
The solvents used in e-cigarettes are irritating to the lungs. This can cause users to experience coughing, wheezing or other problems associated with an irritated respiratory system. These irritants can be particularly aggravating for people who already suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma.
Although we all hoped that e-cigarettes might prove to be a way to help users quit smoking while decreasing their cancer risk, these electronic devices are not without their own carcinogens. Formaldehyde is among the known carcinogens found in e-cigarettes.
Evidence supporting the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for quitting cigarette smoking currently does not exist. In fact, since some e-cigarettes actually contain nicotine and otherwise emulate traditional cigarette smoking, it has been speculated that e-cigarettes might actually lead some "electronic" smokers to traditional tobacco cigarettes, though this has not been studied yet.
Since users can adjust the “strength” of their e-cigarettes, they can, in essence, increase the level of liquid nicotine and other compounds that they are receiving. This can be dangerous for users. Aside from long-term health risks, it is also possible to experience an overdose from liquid nicotine. Liquid nicotine is toxic when swallowed and just a teaspoon of the stuff would be enough to kill a person who weighs 200 pounds.
5. Secondhand Smoke
One of the reasons why people like to smoke e-cigarettes is because its use is not regulated the way traditional tobacco cigarettes is. The idea behind this is that e-cigarettes hardly emit any smoke and that the smoke they do emit is supposedly safe. This is known now not to be true. Heavy metals, as well as other substances, are found in the secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes and these substances can damage the lungs of even those who have only been exposed to secondhand smoke.