What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems(ENDS), are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. Regardless of their design and appearance, these devices generally operate in a similar manner and are made of similar components. Some common nicknames for e-cigarettes are:
- Hookah Pens
- Vape Pens
How do e-cigarettes work?
Most e-cigarettes consist of four different components, including:
- a cartridge or reservoir, which holds a liquid solution (e-liquidor e-juice) containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals
- a heating element (atomizer)
- a power source (usually a battery)
- a mouthpiece that the person uses to inhale
In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor (called vaping)
E-cigarette Use in Teens
E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States. Their easy availability, alluring advertisements, various e-liquid flavors, and the belief that they’re safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to this age group. A study in the US has shown that students who had used e-cigarettes were more likely than others to start smoking cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year.
E-cigarette Use in Adults
- A study of adult smokers in Europe found those who used e-cigarettes were less like to have stopped smoking than those that didn’t use e-cigarettes. Those that used e-cigarettes also smoked more cigarettes than those who didn’t. In another study of more than 800 people who said they were using e-cigarettes to help them quit traditional cigarette smoking, only nine percent reported having quit when asked a year later.
Health hazards of E-cigarettes
- The nicotine in e-liquids is readily absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream and to the brain. The chemical changes in the brain caused by nicotine motivates the smoker to use nicotine again and again, despite risks to their health and well-being leading to addiction to e-cigarettes and even other drugs.
- E-cigarette vapor contains known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the device itself. E-liquids contain high levels of nickel and chromium, which may come from the nichrome heating coils of the vaporizing device. It also contains low levels of cadmium, a toxic metal also found in cigarette smoke that can cause breathing problems and disease.
- Dr Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine, Medicine (Pulmonary), and Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center has studied on the potential toxicity of inhaled flavorings in as electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS) or e-cigarettes. They tested several common e-liquid flavorings. Their study has revealed that the chemicals used to flavour e-cigarette liquids are toxic to white blood cells.
- E-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction and increased risk for addiction to other drugs.
- More research is needed to determine the safety of E-cigarettes in comparison to traditional cigarettes, and if they are helpful for people trying to quit smoking.