E-cigarettes are devices that emits aerosol or vapor that contains nicotine and other substances. Unlike conventional cigarettes, these devices are battery-operated and are designed to heat “e-liquid” from a cartridge, creating a vapor.
E-liquid is created by extracting nicotine from tobacco and mixed with propylene glycol as its base. Flavorings, colorings and other potentially harmful chemicals are also added.
And because there is no government regulation of these products manufacturers can simply make and sell e-cigarettes to the public. To date there are approximately 500 brands of e-cigarettes and more than 7000 flavors to choose from – all without the FDA evaluation. So no one really knows what’s in e-liquids or how vaping may affect your health.
Most, if not all, e-cigarettes use nicotine and may also contain other potentially harmful chemicals, as well as carcinogens.
You know well that nicotine is an addictive substance. Some e-cigarette brands even claim to be nicotine-free. However, initial FDA lab test discovered traces of nicotine in these products. It was also discovered that there are discrepancies what’s on the label and the actual nicotine level contained in the cartridges.
Another issue is the devices’ design. Newer models have voltage regulator that allow users to increase or decrease the voltage. The higher the voltage is, the more concentrated nicotine becomes. This means higher dose of nicotine is delivered, you get more addicted to nicotine – and nicotine is not safe. In fact, aside from addiction and numerous lung and heart problems, nicotine may also affect brain function and development in babies and children.
Other Harmful Chemicals
While more studies are still needed to fully know what’s in e-cigarettes, initial tests discovered evident levels of carcinogens. And the levels vary from one brand to another. It was also discovered that brands with higher voltage contains higher levels of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing agents.
Flavors used in e-cigarettes is also a big concern. Not only because they attract younger generations into trying e-cigarettes, but because they are potentially harmful on their own. E-cigarette companies try to mislead the public by claiming that their products are FEMA GRAS™ approved. FEMA GRAS™ only applies to food, not to inhaled substances. While it may be safe to eat, it doesn’t mean that the same is true when the substance is heated and inhaled, as new byproduct is produced.
The Bottom Line
Without the FDA regulation and despite being in the market for some time, there still is a lot of things and questions that need to be answered about e-cigarettes. Initial lab tests and studies have discovered that e-cigarettes contain unpredictable levels of nicotine as well as other cancer-causing agents, such as formaldehyde. So it’s really not safe.
It is undeniable that the growing concern about the potential health risk of e-cigarettes has a strong basis. This is the reason why advocates are urging the FDA to start regulating e-cigarettes, which would lead to the disclosure of the key ingredients used these products, restriction of access, and proper labeling of products.