Thanks to negative propaganda by several health agencies, there exist quite a few myths about electronic cigarettes that simply aren’t true. Let’s take a look at the top 7 myths and why they need to be busted.
Electronic cigarettes are just as unsafe as tobacco ones are: After the FDA released its lab report in 2009, stating that it found certain toxic chemicals and carcinogens in the e-cigarettes it tested, this point has been stated repeatedly by the media and other organizations. This has lead to the belief that e-cigarettes are no worse than tobacco cigarettes for human health.
Reality: The truth is that the FDA only found trace amounts of “tobacco-specific nitrosamines” in certain samples that they tested. However, the amounts were too insignificant to cause any hazards. In fact, nitrosamines are actually allowed by the FDA in certain consumable products such as nicotine gum and nicotine patches.
On the 4th of October this year, the National Vapers Club (NVC), in collaboration with CHANGE, LLC, released the results of a study they have been working on since 2009. The Indoor Vapor Air Quality Study (IVAQS) proved in a scientific manner that after comparing toxins and pollutants in e-cigarette vapor with tobacco smoke, the former was found to have no significant risk of harm to human health. An independent study conducted by Dr. Murray Laugesen also showed that e-cigarettes on average contain only 8.18ng of nitrosamines per gram of liquid. This is an extremely tiny amount, lower than what is found in nicotine gums and patches.
Using electronic cigarettes may lead to tobacco smoking: Critics of the e-cigarette industry are quick to point out that non-smokers may try them out, getting addicted to nicotine in the process, and switching to tobacco cigarettes.
Reality: A majority of e-cigarette makers today, market their products to existing smokers, mainly as a healthier means of getting their nicotine fix. E-cigarettes are viewed more as a harm-reduction tool, than something to be used for entertainment. People do start smoking for a variety of reasons, such as peer pressure and excessive stress. It is highly unlikely that a non-smoker might get attracted to e-cigarettes for their flavors. In fact, polls do show that a vast majority of e-cigarette users are actually smokers. Even if a non-smoker happens to use e-cigarettes, the chances that he/she would move on to tobacco ones are quite slim. This is because tobacco would taste really foul to a non-smoker after having used the nice flavors that e-cigarettes have to offer.
Young people are targeted by e-cigarette makers, with flashy packaging and sweet flavors: Once again, critics assume that fruity or exotic flavors and fancy advertising only appeal to little children.
Reality: As I mentioned before, most of the e-cigarette marketing is meant to target smokers. E-cigs are not meant to be a smoking cessation aid, but a means for smokers to cut down on the dangerous toxins and carcinogens that are associated with smoking tobacco. These devices provide only nicotine vapor to the user, and none of the harmful chemicals. The mere use of slick marketing or packaging does not imply that a younger audience is being targeted. Sweet and exotic flavors appeal to adults as well, and is added to the otherwise flavorless nicotine juice to enhance the vaping experience. Several smokers confess to preferring e-cig flavors to the taste of tobacco smoke.
Electronic cigarettes may be more addictive than tobacco cigarettes: Another conclusion from the infamous FDA lab report was that the levels of nicotine found in cartridges varied from the amounts stated on the labels. This has led to the belief that e-cigarettes provide very strong doses of nicotine and are hence, more addictive.
Reality: It is a well-established fact that the sample size used by the FDA in their lab analysis was too small to have produced conclusive results. Also, two independent studies conducted by Dr. Laugesen and Dr. Thomas Eissenberg at Virginia Commonwealth University proved that e-cigarettes are not as efficient as tobacco in delivering nicotine doses. This means that the amount of nicotine delivered in e-cig vapor is much less than the actual concentration of the liquid.
E-liquid or e-juice is available in several concentrations for users to choose from, so they can self-regulate their nicotine intake on a daily basis.
Second-hand vapor is unsafe for non-users: Anti-smoking groups such as the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights are against the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces and public spaces, as they believe that the vapor exhaled by users contains toxins and carcinogens.
Reality: As we’ve already seen, many studies have proved that the pollutants present in e-cigarette vapor are in such negligible amounts that they pose no risk whatsoever to those around. There is no threat to bystanders or non-users from second-hand vapor. Tobacco cigarettes are unsafe because they produce smoke that is not only exhaled by the smoker, but also comes directly from the lit end. This is not the case with e-cigarette where there is no real combustion taking place.
All electronic cigarettes contain antifreeze: The 2009 FDA lab report also states that they found diethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze in one of the samples they tested.
Reality: The truth is that the FDA found diethylene glycol (DEG) in only one cartridge out of the 18 tested. This evidence is inconclusive, and cannot be used to generalize all brands of e-cigarettes. Subsequently, several independent studies were conducted on other e-cigarette brands and no evidence of DEG was ever found. DEG is a highly toxic compound, the consumption of which would cause immediate poisoning that could result in death. If e-cigarettes did contain DEG, it would result in a poisoning epidemic. Nothing of the sort has ever been reported.
Electronic cigarettes are easily available to children/teens: Anti-smoking groups and legislators are of the assumption that children and teens will naturally be attracted to e-cigarettes, and can purchase them with ease.
Reality: E-cigarettes are mostly sold online, and it isn’t easy for children to buy them this way. They would need access to a credit card, which is impossible unless they steal one from their parents. Retailers and kiosk vendors are generally forbidden from selling these products to minors. Even if they were accessible, a single tobacco cigarette is way more affordable than an e-cigarette for a teenager who is experimenting. In any case, since e-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to tobacco cigs, they lack a ‘coolness factor’ with a younger audience.