One of the most common questions we are asked is whether e-cigarettes are safe. The simplest answer to this is that they are certainly much, much safer than continuing to smoke tobacco.
Judging whether or not they are 'safe', however, is a little more complex. Much of what makes e-cigarettes safe comes down to the individual; e-cigs are not advisable when pregnant for instance, and many e-liquids may contain traces of nuts, so are not suitable for those with an allergy.
Putting aside the more specific health considerations faced by the individual, however, what can be said for certain is that e-cigs offer a far healthier alternative to smoking. In the past ten years, smoking related illnesses have been responsible for the deaths of millions of smokers. In the same period of time, since e-cigarettes first appeared on the market, not a single death has been directly attributed to vaping.
E-liquid is made up of a mix Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, nicotine and flavourings (for a total of around 16 ingredients, on average). This number is dwarfed by the 3000-4000 chemicals found in the average combustive tobacco cigarette, over 60 of which are known carcinogens.
As well as this, e-cigarettes do not combust which is what results in so many chemical changes in a tobacco cigarette.
What causes the most concern is the presence of nicotine in e-liquid. This, after all, is the addictive chemical found in cigarettes that hooks millions of smokers worldwide every year. Nicotine by itself, however, is relatively benign.
ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) had the following to say in their June 2014 briefing document:
"Most of the diseases associated with smoking are caused by inhaling smoke which contains thousands of toxic chemicals. By contrast, nicotine is relatively safe. Electronic cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the harmful toxins found in tobacco smoke, are a safer alternative to smoking."
Nicotine can be compared to caffeine in terms of its physiological effects on the human body. Nicotine is biphasic, meaning it is both a stimulant and a relaxant. In users, it does cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate which can cause health concerns for those who already suffer from high blood pressure but, for most people, this effect should be no different to drinking a strong coffee. Nicotine is a toxin however, so cannot be deemed truly safe, but if handled with care it poses no greater risk to the user than any other comparable substance.
New evidence has come to light very recently however, suggesting that the toxicity of the vast majority of e-liquids currently available has been hugely overstated. A study in to the toxicity of e-liquids below 25mg/ml, or 2.5%, has shown that they "should not be classified under the EC regulation [for acute oral or dermal toxicity]…".
Propylene Glycol is already put to a similar use in many asthma inhalers, while Vegetable Glycerine can be found in a variety of products, ranging from soap and hand creams, to toothpaste as well as many food products, due to its natural sweetness.
As e-cigs remain a relatively new product, widely available since 2006, inevitably there is a lack of long-term research. More studies are published all the time, however, and what has been shown pretty much conclusively is that compared with smoking, vaping presents a much healthier choice for adult smokers to switch to. A range of scientific research in the field is available from ECITA.
Of course, as with anything, consumers should do their research. Not every company will follow the same procedures, and it’s important to pick a product that you can trust. JAC Vapour submits all of its products for independent testing to ensure that we continue to offer products of the highest quality. We use pharmaceutical and food-grade ingredients in order to provide peace of mind for our customers.
All of our e-liquids are supplied in clearly labelled, CLP compliant bottles fitted with child-proof safety caps.
For further information visit our dedicated E-Cigarette Safety page.