So you’ve finally made the move to quit a bad habit. Of course, that’s a great start. But quitting smoking cold turkey isn’t always smooth sailing. Many smokers determined to quit will turn to eCigarettes to lessen withdrawal symptoms and ultimately ease into a smoke-free daily life. The question is, what are the effects of these eCigarettes in the long run? Is it actually possible they’re doing more harm than good?
Let’s take a closer look to determine how these eCigarettes actually function, and what kind of effect they bring about.
eCigarettes include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, and e-cigars known as electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS. Along with a heating element, a chemical-filled aerosol is released containing nicotine or other similar substances. Often the fluid used in eCigarettes are mixed with propylene glycol as well as flavorings or colorings.
eCigarettes, which contain a reduced but active amount of nicotine, can be harmful to people with heart conditions. Nicotine contributes to high blood pressure, fast heart rate, endothelial dysfunction, and atherosclerosis. In severe cases, these symptoms can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and even death.
Although eCigarettes contain smaller portions of nicotine than regular cigarettes and therefore are a safer choice, they can’t be considered 100% safe.
Damage to Unborn Babies
Just as pregnant women should avoid smoking, they should also steer clear of eCigarettes for similar reasons. Nicotine can inadvertently cause damage to the fetus, causing permanent damage to the baby’s development.
The most common results are low birth weights, preterm delivery, and stillbirths.
Expecting mothers who are weaning themselves off of cigarettes should turn to other forms of quitting that do not involve nicotine.
Damage to Arteries
Nicotine not only damages your heart’s functions but your arteries and blood pressure. As your blood pressure and heart rate race, as your arteries narrow and the walls harden. As a result, your blood becomes more likely to clot.
Even more so, damaged arteries cause stress on your heart, and ultimately may lead to stroke or heart attack.
Lung problems can appear in newborns as well as adults, as a result of the mother or individuals using products containing nicotine, like eCigarettes. Flavored eCigarettes usually contain the chemical Diacetyl. This butter-like flavored chemical is said to cause a lung disease, called popcorn lung, as reported by Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association.
You may be surprised that nicotine is not the only chemical to be wary of when it comes to using eCigarettes. Formaldehyde, many times used in building materials and another ingredient using in antifreeze is major area for concern.
While the full scope of these ingredients is not yet known, what is for sure, is that these harmful materials may lead to cancer and other related diseases.
Secondhand Emissions from E-cigarettes?
eCigarettes are smoke-free, which can sometimes be misleading. As more and more public places become smoke-free, people who use eCigarettes assume they’re not putting others at risk. The truth is, while eCigarettes do not emit smoke, they do emit other chemical substances such as formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (all carcinogens).
As public spaces increasingly become smoke-free, anecdotal reports show some people are attempting to use e-cigarettes indoors and in public spaces which are smoke-free, like bars, restaurants, and even public transit.
While e-cigarettes do not contain smoke, they do expose others to secondhand emissions. Two studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (all carcinogens).
Accordingly, the American Lung Association has supported banning eCigarettes from public spaces. In addition, nine states have prohibited eCigarettes in spaces where smoking is already banned.
Is it Worth the Risk?
Quitting smoking all at once is not realistic for many heavy smokers, which makes methods of slowly weaning off—like via eCigarettes—attractive.
However, after close analysis by the FDA, smokers should turn to other methods of quitting before getting started with eCigarettes. Ultimately, the full effects of eCigarettes still remain unknown.
For many smokers, using eCigarettes either gets them hooked on this reduced source of nicotine, while many smokers never fully stop smoking regular cigarettes.