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Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

Discussion in 'Health, Safety and Vaping' started by kristin, Oct 8, 2009.

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  1. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?
    by Kristin Noll-Marsh

    Recently, there has been media coverage about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which may be confusing and a bit scary.


    Electronic cigarettes were intended to be a less-toxic (or “safer”) option to smoking tobacco cigarettes, but not a treatment to quit smoking. Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette in 2003 with a patented ultrasonic technology. Hon Lik was inspired to invent this smoking alternative, because his father was dying from lung cancer. Since then, most e-cigarette manufacturers use a heating element that vaporizes the nicotine liquid instead.

    Read more:


    It’s well documented that currently available treatments for smokers, nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gums, are largely ineffective, with just a 7% success rate after 12 months. This is largely due to the fact that smokers aren’t just addicted to the nicotine; they are addicted to the actual habit and ritual of smoking a cigarette. It is a comfort system for them. That is even stronger than nicotine addiction.

    However, the greatest danger in cigarette smoking is not the nicotine. Nicotine, while highly addictive, is a stimulant similar to caffeine and not toxic in low, intermittent doses, which is why it can be used in nicotine replacement therapies. Nicotine, by itself, does NOT cause cancer, but is known to have some side effects. Cigarette smoke, on the other hand, contains more than just nicotine. It contains hundreds of toxic chemicals and dozens of known carcinogens.

    Hon Lik seems to have believed that there could be an option for smokers, to still have the act of smoking, while limiting exposure to the chemicals, toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. He had to have known that the smoker would still need relief from the nicotine addiction, so to get them to switch to the less toxic electronic cigarettes; he had to include doses of nicotine. The typical electronic cigarette liquid contains water, propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine & food-grade flavoring.

    Read more:

    Diethylene glycol

    You may have heard that the FDA found traces (1%) of diethylene glycol in one Smoking Everywhere brand prefilled cartridge. Diethylene glycol is a highly toxic substance used in tobacco processing (and in anti-freeze) and is NOT used to manufacture electronic cigarette liquid. Because it used in tobacco processing, cheaper, less refined nicotine may become contaminated with traces of diethylene glycol. It is the most likely explanation of how one cartridge may have been contaminated. The other 17 cartridges were not found to have been contaminated with diethylene glycol. Many liquid manufacturers use U.S. made pharmaceutical-grade nicotine, the same as used in FDA-approved nicotine patches and gums and should not contain any diethylene glycol.

    Read more: Diethylene glycol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Propylene Glycol

    Propylene glycol is commonly confused in the media with diethylene glycol as the toxic ingredient found in antifreeze. (Anti-freeze is actually most commonly made with ethylene glycol.) While propylene glycol can be found in some antifreeze, it is actually added to it to make it LESS toxic.

    “Antifreeze typically contains ethylene glycol as its active ingredient, but some manufacturers market propylene glycol-based antifreeze, which is less toxic to humans and pets. The acute, or short-term, toxicity of propylene glycol, especially in humans, is substantially lower than that of ethylene glycol. Regardless of which active ingredient the spent antifreeze contains, heavy metals contaminate the antifreeze during service. When contaminated, particularly with lead, used antifreeze can be considered hazardous and should be reused, recycled, or disposed of properly.”

    Read more:

    Propylene glycol is actually approved for human consumption by the FDA and approved for human inhalation by the EPA. It is a common ingredient in many foods and medicines, such as McCormick (and other brand) imitation food flavoring, toothpaste, cough syrup, hand sanitizer, lotions, cosmetics and more.

    Read more:

    Tobacco-specific Nitrosamines

    The FDA analysis found “tobacco-specific nitrosamines” in the samples tested. These nitrosamines are created during the curing and processing of tobacco and would be expected to be found, in trace amounts, in nicotine extracted from processed tobacco. In tobacco smoke, they are found in high concentration and are a leading cause of tobacco-related cancers. These carcinogens were found in much smaller amounts in the electronic cigarette liquid and are found in other tobacco and nicotine products, including chew, snuf, patches, gum and inhalers. A study at Oxford concluded that the highest levels of these nitrosamines are found in the reaction of tobacco smoke and minimal in NRTs. Levels of nitrosamines found in electronic cigarettes are at or below those found in NRTs.

    Read more:

    Most companies use water-based, food-grade flavorings for their liquids. They make up a very small percentage of the total liquid content. These have been approved by the FDA for ingestion, but the effect of long-term inhalation has not been tested.

    Most of the ingredients in electronic cigarette liquid has been tested and approved for long-term exposure in humans, but not when they are all mixed together. There are also no set minimal standards for manufacturing and the FDA has not approved any liquid for sale or use. The FDA wants to classify electronic cigarettes as a drug and drug delivery device for smoking cessation and wants appropriate studies done to show that they are safe. It is unklnown if the FDA will compare the safety of electronic cigarettes to that of smoking tobacco cigarettes long term or to using NRTs short term, to quit smoking.

    Now you have the facts. You decide, for yourself, if you consider electronic cigarettes are safe (or at least safer than tobacco cigarettes) for YOU.
  2. catwoman19

    catwoman19 Super Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 16, 2009
    Very good article Kristin, wish we could get it published in some e-cig ads:)
  3. CzanMan

    CzanMan Full Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 2, 2009
    San Diego via Detroit
  4. SKORN

    SKORN Full Member

    Oct 7, 2009
    Kristin - Thank You for compiling this information. Now I just have to get my wife to read it...
  5. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    Hope it helps a lot of people!
  6. bassn99

    bassn99 Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 24, 2009
    This is an excellent well written documents with the FACTS. No fluff, No e-cig slant, No slant in any direction what so ever. This is the type of documentation newbies need to read and make their own minds up. I can tell you all the good things I think about the product, but are they really safer than regular analogs ( I think so) but I really don't know. I really don't care since I have been analog and smell free for over two months.
    We are all adults and should have the right to make our own intelligent minds up on our own.
    Thanks Kristin
  7. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    You're welcome! :)
  8. breakfastchef

    breakfastchef Moved On

    Feb 12, 2009
    To the OP, Kristen, we are not completely sure that vaping is safe. The necessary tests to determine the safety of inhaling PG/VG, flavoring and nicotine in this new mixture called e-liquid is unknown. That said, we know that burning tobacco is certainly dangerous to our health. Since e-cigs remove most of the toxicity from analog smoking, most of us are pretty comfortable that vaping is a significantly reduces the harm we were doing to ourseilves by smoking analogs. That said, I would also consider vaping much better than inhaling exhaust fumes from an automobile.
  9. Zen_Brew

    Zen_Brew Full Member Verified Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Nice compilation of the facts.

  10. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    Thanks, Breakfastchef, but I wasn't asking the question.
    I was providing facts so people could decide for themselves.
  11. Katin
    This message by Katin has been removed from public view. Deleted by a moderator, Oct 10, 2009, Reason: Disruptive posts..
    Oct 10, 2009
  12. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    It's a little contradictory. Remember that wikis can be written by anyone and not always 100% correct.

    The entire paragraph is a little more informative, if you look at some key words used:
    **I'd like to see the research mentioned in the part in italics (my emphesis)

    It lists one of PG's uses as:
    (Which means inhalation.)

    I added a link to the EPA report that talks about it being approved for inhalation.

    I looked up some reports cited and a lot of those theatrical fogger machines use triethylene glycol and the testing didn't include propylene glycol.
    Read more:

    One 2001 study, Occup Environ Med -- Sign In Page, (I have to register to read) specifically on exposure to PG in high concentrations as a smoke simulator in airlines, seemed to conclude that PG, being a drying agent, dries out the eyes and is a mild irritant of the upper respiratorty system in sensitive individuals. It affected non-smokers more than past or current smokers.

    But again, nothing has been approved SPECIFICALLY for use in PVs yet, but seeing what the componenets of PV ARE approved for can help us (personally) decide if the risk is minimal enough to continue use while specific testing is done on PVs.

    I welcome any comments here - the more we know, the more we can make educated decisions!
  13. helki12

    helki12 Full Member

    Oct 10, 2009
    Nice report. I am sure it will help many people.
  14. emus

    emus Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Jun 9, 2009
    To be on the safe side:
    I frequently sterilize atomizer and cart with PGA or vodka.
    Keep liquid in clear bottle to monitor color and opacity.
  15. sallylynn

    sallylynn New Member

    Jan 4, 2010
    Kristin, here is a little more information. I found it at Propylene glycol is added to tabacco to keep it moist, burn better and produce a smoother taste. It has been added to tabacco since the 1950's. So I am not sure why the FDA or any one else cares if we are inhaling it now.
  16. kristin

    kristin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 16, 2009
    CASAA - Wisconsin
    Yes, it's pretty much common knowledge now that PG is used as a humectant in tobacco. Unfortunately, there is a LOT of bad stuff in tobacco, too, including nicotine. The FDA and others against vaping don't care that they are logically "safer" than tobacco or contain some of the same ingredients. They want it to be able to stand on it's own as a safe product.

    Honestly, they don't care about smokers - they care about non-smokers who may start using them.
  17. miketee

    miketee Full Member

    Jan 6, 2010

    Thanks for that very concise compilation of facts about e-cigarettes. I'm a new member of this forum and this is my first post. I am a non-smoker (never started) but I've been married to a smoker for 25 years. My wife has smoked since she was 14, she is now 66 and has gone through several attempts to quit, all unsuccessful. She has cut down to less than 1/2 a pack a day but really want's to quit all together. She has good reason to quit...about three years ago, she started experiencing chest pressure and was getting winded easily. Turned out she had a 90% blockage in one of her arteries and was dangerously close to having a heart attack! Fortunately, she went into the hospital and had a stent put in. Unfortunately, even after that scare and going through physical therapy for 6 weeks, she gradually started smoking again!! I'm saying all this to illustrate just how difficult it is for some people to quit.

    I first heard about e-cigs on a radio ad for one of those "free trial" deals about a month ago. A visit to their web site led me to do further research which is how I found this forum. I am amazed at the number of different brands of e-cigs are out there already and at how much information is out there (both positive and negative). After much reading and looking at many options, I settled on a Green Smoke starter kit and ordered one for my wife. Now, I need to find a way to persuade her to try it. She is very skeptical about it and is afraid that she will experience side effects, which she has with certain medications she's taken. She has agreed to show it to her doctor but I'm afraid that her doctor will either not know anything about e-cigs or discourage her from trying it.

    At this point, I'm just searching for any and all positive information on e-cigs and hoping for the day when my wife will accept them as a sensible alternative to her Marlboro's! Not to mention the relief I'll get from not having that disgusting smell when I walk past her bathroom or get in her car! Thankfully, she refrains from smoking all over the house!

    Again, I'm not a smoker but if I were, I would have no problem trying an e-cigarette. Sorry for the long post but I thought my story would be interesting and show how the promise of e-cigs have also affected non-smokers who live with those who still smoke. I welcome any and all words of advice and encouragement and would like to know if anyone else has had a similar experience with a spouse or someone they know.
  18. Thulium

    Thulium Ultra Member ECF Veteran


    Kristin has prepared an excellent timeline of the history of electronic cigarettes that includes links to multiple lab reports that will be helpful in answering any questions you, your wife, or your physician may have.
  19. purplxhaze420

    purplxhaze420 Full Member

    Dec 26, 2009

    Let's start off with this. Why do people smoke cigarettes? For the NICOTINE. Present this idea to your wife, that she will be getting a (depending on her preference) a lesser, equal, or greater amount of nicotine. Also present to her the idea that she can get just about ANY flavor one can imagine... from just about every type of candy, fruit, drink, alcoholic beverage, or even actual Marlboro flavor (along with just about type of analog cig -- they make a flavor for it somewhere)! Also, share with her some of the benefits. I started vaping 3 days ago, and now I'm between 1-5 traditional cigarettes/day. I SMELL LIKE PURE SHI*! You really never notice how bad you smell until you can actually smell yourself fully. And you never know the full taste of food, either. Smoking regular cigarettes annihilates taste buds more or less (which is also what makes you smell -- tiny buds on back of tongue by the adenoids where air is taken in from your nose). Even though I am still having a few butts per day for now... i have noticed my cloths wreak. my hands wreak. Even my laundry room wreaks of cigarettes from my clothes. Another perk you can bring up to your wife is that you can utilize an e-cig ANYWHERE. (Unless your country/state has banned them, like Australia). I'm assuming you are in the U.S., so this shouldn't be an issue. It's kind of nice actually, sit there at work/school and you get stressed out and need some nicotine quick before you start screaming at people... just take a few smell-free, tasty puffs. I have smoked analog cigarettes since i was 13 (am now 18)... and after about my first 3 butts of the day, every one i smoked, would give me a nice chest pain in the lower lobe of my left lung (right at the bottom of my ribcage). Not to mention that my throat would also feel burn/aggravated, my teeth are getting yellow, and that nasty cough with the Lovely, Attractive, Delicious tobacco-y phlegm that would come up with every cough. On wait... the best part of all... the e-cig you buy will pay for itself in less than a month, if you wife smoke aprox. a pack a day. (I RECOMMEND YOU/SHE REFILLS HER OWN CARTRIDGES WITH E-LIQUID... SAVES A TON OF MONEY) All that cigg-money that gets spent daily will be going right in the bank, or wherever else... just not on Butts! Also be aware, the FDA and Philip-Morris company are slandering this product left and right. They make note of the "addictive drugs" -- AKA.. NICOTINE -- that are in e-cigs, and a few (about 2-10, depending on which liquid u use) other chemicals that can barely be considered harmful. They also fail to mention that all these horrible chemicals that are found in this "wretched" e-cig.. can be found at AT LEAST double the concentration (except the nicotine) IN THEIR OWN TOBACCO PRODUCTS! To me, and many others here on this form, it is blatantly apparent that e-cigs are much much safer than regular cigarettes, IF NOT HARMLESS! [opinion]
    Hope I helped and I'm curious if you are able to convince your wife lol...
  20. MissVapor

    MissVapor Super Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 25, 2009
    Vapin Hot Florida
    Why don't you make put that in an article like on Hubpages or Squidoo?
  21. 420GypsyGirl

    420GypsyGirl Super Member ECF Veteran

    I know a lot of people think Hon Lik from China developed the first e-cigarette, they would be mistaken. It turns out the first e-cigarette was developed back in 1963 by Herbert A. Gilbert. He was awarded a US patent in 1965.

    This is a excerpt from his explanation as to the purpose of an e-cigarette to the patent office.

    “The present invention relates to a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette and has for an object to provide a safe and harmless means for and method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air; or by inhaling warm medication into the lungs in case of a respiratory ailment under direction of a physician.”

    Cool huh?


    BTW he used a light bulb as a means to vaporize the liquid! Brialliant design.
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