The electronic cigarette, which aims to deliver nicotine without the harmful effects associated with tobacco, has become incredibly popular for smokers looking for a possibly healthy alternative to tobacco or who are trying to quit smoking. But the marketing around e-cigarettes provides few details regarding the safety of the product. The American Chemical Society has looked at recent studies regarding the healthfulness of “vaping.”
Recent research has found that e-cigarettes are healthier than tobacco products — they contain fewer carcinogens and other harmful products — but the studies noted that the science is in its infancy and little is known about the long-term effects of the product. In one study, researchers found small amounts of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and three other toxic compounds. The study also found metal particles — cadmium, nick and lead — in both e-cig vapor and cigarette smoke. Nicotine exposure also is a concern; the drug can be deposited on surfaces through e-cigarette vapor, according to the American Chemical Society.
“What will happen after many years of vaping? To see some of the long-term effects we just need time,” Maciej L. Goniewicz, a toxicologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and author of the harmful-compound study, told ACS.
Researchers say the marketing of e-cigarettes could lead to a false sense of security in users, much the way “light” cigarettes may be seen as safer despite higher levels of tar. “There’s a great deal of ambiguity about product content in the largely unregulated e-cigarette industry right now, and considerable debate over the safety, long-term risks, and effects of secondhand smoke exposure,” Greta Hsu, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, said in a statement. “At the same time, acceptance and popularity of e-cigarettes is rapidly growing, creating a market where consumers are vulnerable.”
The ACS’ “Are E-cigs Safer Than Cigarettes? — Reactions” video, looking at the chemistry and science of vaping, can be viewed below.