Are Vaporizers Really Better for you Than Smoking

electronic cigarette
For those of us looking to kick the terrible smoking habit which claims approximately six million lives every year globally, vaporizers and e-cigarettes (e-cigs) seem like a great alternative. These new tobacco products—which mimic the act of smoking—have had some measurable success in helping smokers quit, but questions about their safety are still being examined.

E-cigarettes, which include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah and e-cigars, are known collectively as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol (vapor) containing nicotine or other substances. Unlike the traditional cigarette, e-cigs are generally battery-operated and use a heating element to heat e-liquid from a refillable cartridge, releasing a chemical-filled aerosol.

According to the American Lung Association, “the main component of e-cigarettes is the e-liquid contained in cartridges.” To create an e-liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), and may also include flavorings and chemicals.

Because there is no government oversight of these products, nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes are on the market—all without an FDA evaluation. This makes it impossible for anyone, including healthcare professionals and consumer, to know what chemicals are contained in e-liquids, or how e-cigarette use might affect health, whether in the short-term or in the long run.
The American Lung Association reports that early studies show that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and also may have other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens. Nicotine, as many may already know, is an unsafe addictive substance found in cigarettes and almost all e-cigs—even most of those that claim to be nicotine-free.

One of the biggest concerns stemming from e-cigs and vaporizers is that because they are not FDA-approved, and because they are still relatively new to the market, it is difficult to gauge exactly how hazardous they may be to a person’s health. But in initial lab tests conducted in 2009, the FDA reportedly found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze in two leading brands of e-cigs and various cartridges. Just five years later, in 2014, another study found that aerosol from some e-cigs with higher voltage levels contained more formaldehydean—another toxin that has been linked to cancer.

The reality is, while e-cigs technically better for you than smoking, research has shown that many e-cig users are still smoking conventional cigarettes. In 2013, nearly 77 percent of people who recently used e-cigarettes also smoke regular cigarettes.

The bottom line is, unless you are using e-cigs and vaporizers to quit entirely, picking up a new and unregulated e-smoking habit will not do you any good. Pretty much anything is better than lighting up a cigarette, so if given a choice between the two, e-cigs have fewer known side effects—but this does not mean that e-cigs don’t have health hazards; we just don’t know what the possible hazards are yet.

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