[YOUR HEALTH] Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

Kristina Sadler, MSW
Social Worker
St. Hope Foundation

Electric cigarettes have become a booming business and more than 250 companies sell E-cigarettes. According to the Daily Record sales of the E-Cigarette are expected to top $1.2 billion a year. The E-cigarette was first introduced in 2007, and is marketed to be safer than a traditional cigarette. Many ex-smoker lean towards the E-cigarette due to their affordability and what many argue to be safer than inhaling 4,000 chemicals found in a cigarette (Daily Record, 2013). E-cigarette is a tobaccoless and battery powered. Once plugged it heats up a liquid solution that contains-nicotine, water, propylene glycol and glycerin into vapor.

However, Health Professionals feel that there has not been enough research to prove or identify the long term health effects to say if the E-cigarette is truly safer. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (1994), The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol which is one of the ingredients in an E-cigarettes as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food Propylene glycol can enter your bloodstream if you breathe air containing mists or vapors from this compound. Propylene glycol breaks down in the body in about 48 hours (ATSDR. 1994). However, the effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.


“42-year-old woman had developed exogenous lipoid pneumonia — a chronic, inflammatory reaction to the deposit of lipid substances in the lung — from the use of e-cigarettes. It was determined the patient’s exposure to the glycerin-based oils found in the vapor of e-cigarettes was the source of her illness (Daily Record, 2013).” Even though the glycerin breaks down in 48 hours if you consume a good amount of this chemical it can cause damage to the lung.

Another downfall is that the E-cigarette has no age restrictions. The E-cigarette is becoming more prevalent and according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among middle- and high-school students doubled from 2011 to 2012.

So in my opinion regarding the E-cigarette is to use with caution. There is still research to be done and regulations to have better control of this device.

Rojas, M. (2013, December 30). Healthy or harmful? smoking out the truth about e-cigarettes. Daily Reord. Retrieved from http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20131024/NJNEWS/310240007/
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1994). Public health statement: Propylene Glycol. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp189-c1-b.pdf