Since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2005, e-cigarettes have been a controversial product. Marketed as a healthier alternative to normal cigarettes, e-cigarettes have also gained popularity as smoking cessation devices. However, recent studies have shown that despite their lower nicotine content, e-cigarettes may not be as safe as they are advertised to be. What follows are some disadvantages of e-cigarette use.
Dangerous Nicotine Concentrations
E-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, and seem to operate in the same way. However, rather than the typical tobacco ingredients, some e-cigarettes contain a nicotine solution housed in a special cartridge. When a user inhales through an e-cigarette, he or she triggers an atomizer inside the device, which turns this water-based solution into a vapor. While the dose of nicotine in e-cigarettes is purportedly lower than in regular cigarettes, one of the disadvantages of e-cigarette use is that the nicotine solution itself is sold in 500 mg bottles. This is actually ten times the lethal dose of nicotine, so accidentally ingesting too much of this at once puts the user at risk for nicotine poisoning.
In addition to the potentially lethal doses of nicotine contained in each cartridge, e-cigarettes have also been proven to contain a number of known carcinogens. In fact, a recent study of two of the major e-cigarette brands (NJoy and Smoking Everywhere) uncovered TSNAs (tobacco-specific nitrosamines), a dangerous carcinogenic compound, in every cartridge tested. Though the Electronic Cigarette Association argues that this round of FDA testing was not thorough or conclusive, the FDA maintains that the disadvantages of e-cigarette use may include an increased risk for cancer.
While e-cigarettes are advertised as safer for users and the general public (since they do not produce the same kind of second-hand smoke as regular cigarettes), the FDA and the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies both agree that more tests need to be completed before these cigarette alternatives can be proven truly safe. Though the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group and the Boston University School of Public Health maintain that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, this does not mean that the product poses no dangers, and any implications of such claims are hotly contested by the FDA and World Health Organization.
Technically, e-cigarettes are legal for use in the United States, both indoors and outdoors. However, many businesses have instituted e-cigarette bans, making overall inconvenience another one of the disadvantages of e-cigarette use. This is somewhat ironic, since one of the primary advertised benefits of e-cigarettes is that they are supposedly more publicly acceptable than cigarettes. In recent years, e-cigarettes have been banned for use in airplanes, and in countries such as Canada, Brazil, and Thailand.
Due to the aforementioned disadvantages of e-cigarette use, the FDA has generally discouraged their use, both as a smoking alternative and an anti-smoking aid. In fact, it was recently decided in court that the FDA could legally regulate the e-cigarette because the product is so similar to a regular cigarette. Overall, the risks of e-cigarettes are many, and the healthier alternative would be to turn to another FDA-approved anti-smoking aid.