Saturday, May 15, 2010

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safer than Traditional Cigarettes?

by Kristin Noll-Marsh

Recently, there has been media coverage about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which may be confusing and a bit scary. Even groups like the American Lung Association and American Heart Association are attempting to remove them from the market. They claim that there is no "proof" that electronic cigarettes are any safer than traditional cigarettes.

Does this claim make sense? Read more and decide for yourself.

Electronic cigarettes were intended to be a less-toxic (or “safer”) option to smoking tobacco cigarettes, but not a treatment for nicotine addiction.

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 7.2% 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 non-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 minor health effects. Cigarette smoke, on the other hand, contains more than just nicotine. It contains thousands of toxic chemicals and over 60 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.

Read more:

Diethylene glycol
You may have heard that the FDA announced that diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze, is found in electronic cigarettes. This is a gross exaggeration. The FDA found a non-toxic amount (approx. 1%) of diethylene glycol in just one Smoking Everywhere-brand prefilled cartridge.

Diethylene glycol is a toxic substance used in anti-freeze, but it is not used in the manufacture of 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. Subsequent testing of other electronic cigarettes found no diethylene glycol, so it appears that the one cartridge was an anomoly.

Read more:

Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is commonly confused in the media with diethylene glycol as the "toxic chemical found in antifreeze" the FDA found. (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 to children and animals.

“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, asthma inhalers and more.

Read more:

Tobacco-specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs)
The FDA announced that it's analysis found “carcinogens” in the samples tested. These tobacco-specific 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 just trace amounts in the electronic cigarette liquid and are also found in other tobacco and nicotine products, including nicotine replacement pharmaceuticals such as nicotine 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. Testing of Ruyan electronic cigarettes by Health New Zealand found electronic cigarette TSNAs are comparable to the levels found in the FDA-approved nicotine patch.
Absolute safety does not exist for any drug, but
relative to lethal tobacco smoke emissions, Ruyan
e-cigarette emissions appear to be several
magnitudes safer. E-cigarettes are akin to a
medicinal nicotine inhalator in safety, dose, and
addiction potential. - Dr. Murray Laugesen, Health New Zealand
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.

Injuries and Illness Attributed to Electronic Cigarettes:
Electronic cigarettes have been on the world market for over 5 years and in the U.S. for over 2 years. To date, there have been no public reports or complaints of injury or illness attributed to electronic cigarette use.

Compare that to complaints against the FDA-Approved smoking cessation drug, Chantix. Since it's introduction to the market 4 years ago, there have been numerous complaints of erratic behavior, suicidal impulses, violent behavior and over 50 deaths/suicides reportedly attributed to the drug.

Read More:

Traditional Cigarette Toxicity:
Various, peer-reviewed studies show that traditional cigarette smoke contains 4,000 or more chemicals - many of them highly toxic. They also show that approximately 60 of those chemicals are human carcinogens/TNSAs.

Read More:

The typical electronic cigarette liquid contains water, propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine & food-grade flavoring, none of which are found in toxic levels nor known carcinogens.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment