Are E Cigarettes Dangerous?

By Lindsay Fox Posted February 1, 2013

Using an Electronic Cigarette


The supposed dangers of e-cigarette are sadly amongst the most commonly-reported aspects of the innovative technology. However, this isn’t the whole story. The omissions in media and FDA reports into e-cigarettes have led many people to ask the question: are electronic cigarettes dangerous?


The notion that they’re dangerous is on extremely shaky ground, and when compared to tobacco cigarettes they are virtually angelic. Reducing the 5,000-plus chemicals in tobacco cigarettes (which includes an array of carcinogens) to a mere handful of well-studied, safe ones is obviously beneficial, yet misunderstandings with regards to their safety are still common.


SEE ALSO: Top 20 Rebuttals to Win an E-Cig Debate


Nicotine is Not Dangerous


Nicotine only suffers from guilt by association. The fact that nicotine is the most well-known component of cigarette smoke leads people to assume that it’s actually a dangerous substance. It’s actually relatively similar to caffeine, and has been referred to as “very safe drug” by the Royal College of Physicians in London. A study which placed rats in chambers full of vaporized nicotine over a two year period indicated that consuming pure nicotine doesn’t increase the likelihood of cancer. One of the most regularly-cited dangers of e-cigarettes has been contradicted by both medical experts and experimental data.


SEE ALSO: Top 10 Studies on Nicotine


The Nitrosamine Problem


In 2009, the FDA analyzed several e-cigarettes from two different manufacturers, and found that around half of them contained nitrosamines. These are a natural product of the tobacco plant and are known carcinogens (cancer-causers). The levels of these were left out of official reports, for arguably underhanded reasons. Researcher Dr. Michael Siegel has shown that the levels of nitrosamines detected are extremely similar to FDA-approved nicotine patches and over 1,000 times less than you would find in a tobacco cigarette. They are often found in any nicotine extracted from tobacco, and at the levels reported the risk is absolutely minimal.


SEE ALSO: Do You Need to Worry About the Nitrosamines in E-Cigs?


More from the FDA


The same analysis also detected diethylene glycol, a chemical which is sensationally stated to be a common component of anti-freeze in media reports. However, independent reviews of other products haven’t found the same chemical, and the effects of inhaling it as a vapor have been studied in rats, only finding evidence of mild irritation. It’s been suggested that the FDA had a bad, poorly regulated sample, and also pointed out that cigarettes also contain the chemical. Studies have also shown that a user would have to smoke 750,000 cigarettes containing the chemical to inhale a lethal dose. If the choice is between cigarettes, with diethylene glycol and all of the other harmful chemicals, and e-cigs, where just one has been found to contain small amounts of diethylene glycol, the answer is obvious.


E-Cigarettes: Dangerous or Safer Alternative?


The three main arguments used to classify electronic cigarettes as potentially dangerous are all hugely flawed. A final, very important point is that the potential dangers of e cigarettes shouldn’t be measured against nothing; it should be measured against tobacco cigarettes. For people unable to quit smoking through traditional methods, switching to something safer is the only viable option. Even though more research is required into the potential dangers before firm statements can be made, it is unfeasible to state that electronic cigarettes are anywhere near as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.


Share your thoughts: Do you think e-cigarettes are dangerous or a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes?

  • breezypeasy

    But what happens when you smoke to much are you gonna get nicotine poisoning? What about the reports of pneumonia?

  • goober

    What about the reports of LUNG CANCER from tobacco. I think they can cure Pneumonia.

  • heybert17

    The FDA says they are bad, the e-cig marketers say they are safe, I don’t see any conflict of interest here on either side. And we all know corporations have never lied to us to get us addicted to something unsafe before.

  • tjake13

    Is this the same FDA, that gets lucrative jobs from cigarette companies?

  • Steve Hammond

    Nicotine is not dangerous? HORSESHIT!!! Nicotine is a strong vasoconstrictor and can increase the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. Most especially in people with arteriosclerotic disease or are prone to clotting. It can also increase blood pressure and is is also a strong neurotoxin. It is also extremely addictive.

  • StoopidMunkee

    Look at me. =)

  • Bob

    E-cigarettes contain 10 times the carcinogens of regular tobacco

  • gomer

    Your a dumbass.