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Since electronic cigarettes first appeared in 2003, both their claim as a healthy alternative

to traditional cigarettes and their usefulness as a method of smoking cessation have been called
into question. Recently, lawmakers have proposed laws to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in
public places in order to protect non-users from second hand smoke, much like they did with
traditional cigarettes in the 1990's. As an ex-smoker and current e-cigarette user, I have found
myself reading articles with grabbing headlines such as the New York Times article "Selling
Poison by the Barrel: liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes" and "E-cigarettes: healthy tool or gateway
device?" At the end of these articles I always find a footnote stating that most doctors agree they
are far less detrimental to users health than traditional cigarettes, and they could possible extend
the lives of those who switched from traditional to electronic. Where is the scientific proof that
these devices are harmful?
There are more than four hundred different e-cigarette devices being sold in the U.S.
today. Most electronic cigarettes have these basic components: a battery, a cartridge containing
e-liquid and nicotine, and a heating element that vaporizes the liquid to be inhaled. Since their
invention in 2003, e-cigarettes have become more effective at vaporizing the liquid and getting
the nicotine quickly absorbed by the users lungs and into the bloodstream. This makes these
products more addictive, but also a better smoking cessation product as they more closely mimic
the way traditional cigarettes deliver nicotine though with a very important distinction: there are
no "combustion products" produced.
When weighing the health benefits of e-cigarettes it is necessary to consider the fact that
the actual e-liquids or "vape juices" used to create the vapors are not regulated. Many of the
liquids do not even list the ingredients on the packaging. Scientific studies conducted on one
hundred and five e-liquids for eleven electronic cigarette brands detected elements "known to
cause respiratory distress and disease" such as "formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein),
volatile organic compounds (VOCs, e.g. benzene, ethyl benzene, xylene and toluene), heavy
metals (e.g. lead, chromium and nickel) and TSNAs [4-6]." However, one scientific study found
that "most of the toxic chemicals found in the vapors inhaled or exhaled by EC users are in trace
amount or much lower than those produced by traditional smoking" (Liu, Cancer Prevention
Institute of California, 2013, p. 1).
There is scientific evidence that electronic cigarettes could be extremely useful to
smoking cessation, but that there are chemicals contained within the liquids that are just as
detrimental to smokers health as traditional cigarettes. Studies have shown that the exhaled
vapors are not as toxic to bystanders as traditional tobacco. Therefore, lawmakers should be
helping to protect consumers by regulating the production of the e-liquids, not restricting the use
of a potentially beneficial product.

Liu, Cancer Prevention Institute of California, R. (2013). Should Electronic Cigarette Use be
Allowed in Smoke-Free Environments? Pollution Effects & Control, 1(2), 2. Retrieved from