Everything You Need To Know About E-Cigarettes - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 14, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About E-Cigarettes

Everything You Need To Know About E-Cigarettes

If you're trying to quit smoking, get help
from the Crozer-Keyston Smoking
Cessation Resource Center

The popularity of electronic cigarettes, a.k.a. e-cigarettes, has skyrocketed over the past few years. But, despite their popularity, there’s still plenty of mystery and misinformation about them.

Before you try e-cigarettes or give your teen the green light to try them, you need to know these facts.

How Do E-Cigarettes Work?

E-cigarettes are powered by a battery, contain a cartridge called a cartomizer and have an LED on the end that lights up when it’s puffed on. The cartomizer is filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, the chemical propylene glycol, flavoring and other additives.

When you puff on an e-cigarette, a heating element boils the liquid until it produces a vapor – which is why the act of “smoking” an e-cigarette is often called “vaping.”

Why Do People Smoke E-Cigarettes?

Many regular cigarette smokers have turned to these devices as a tool to quit since e-cigarettes contain nicotine. However, The American Heart Association (AHA) isn’t too keen on using e-cigs as a cessation aid. The AHA recommends smokers use some of the proven and safe tools available to help them quit, such as pure forms of inhalable nicotine, nasal sprays, gums and patches.

In a recent study published in the journal “Cancer,” researchers concluded that e-cigarette users were actually more dependent on nicotine than regular smokers, and that e-cigarette users tried to quit more times than the regular smokers did.

Young people are flocking to e-cigarettes. More than a quarter million young people who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study. This is a dramatic increase, and has health officials concerned that these devices could act as a “gateway drug” to real cigarettes.

One of the draws of teens to e-cigarettes is that the liquid nicotine used by these devices comes in many flavors like bubble gum, caramel, chocolate, fruit and mint – all attractive to young people. On top of that, many brands use colorful, candy-like packaging.

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

It’s unclear whether e-cigarettes are safe for smokers trying to quit. It’s still early, and the research to date is inconclusive.

Preliminary studies have found that e-cigarettes may be less dangerous than their tobacco counterparts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the healthier option. Since they contain the highly addictive stimulant nicotine, vaping can lead to a nicotine addiction. It’s unclear how much nicotine someone ingests from e-cigarettes because they aren’t labeled with their ingredients. Consuming or inhaling high levels of nicotine can cause dangerous disturbances in your heart rhythm.

While manufacturers have claimed e-cigarettes are safe, the American Cancer Society argues that only means the ingredients have been found safe to eat – inhaling a substance isn’t the same as swallowing it.

A study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found cancer-causing substances in half of the e-cigarette samples tested in addition to other impurities, including one sample with diethylene glycol, which is a toxic ingredient found in antifreeze. Yikes. There’s some evidence that e-cigarettes may cause short-term lung changes similar to those caused by regular cigarettes, but, again, the long-term health effects are still unclear.

Since the ingredients haven’t officially been deemed safe, most doctors won’t recommend you using e-cigarettes.

Are E-Cigarettes Regulated?

Currently, the only e-cigarettes regulated by the FDA are ones marketed for therapeutic purposes. The FDA is trying to change that – it’s proposing rules that would require warning labels and make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors. This summer the American Heart Association called on the FDA to put those proposed rules into place before the end of this year.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.