Two new studies have turned out some scary findings about e-cigarettes. The first one, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that e-cigarette vapor can harbor hidden formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — at levels up to 15 times greater than regular cigarettes. "We discovered this form of formaldehyde hidden in the tiny liquid droplets of the vapor, where it hadn't been detected before," says lead researcher David Peyton, a chemistry professor at Portland State University in Oregon. "It has the potential to distribute deeply into the lungs and collect there."
The second study showed that e-cigarette vapors directly harm human lung tissue. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that when the aerosol produced by heated liquid nicotine hits lung cells, it churns up disease-causing free radicals and triggers marked inflammation; they also found the presence of up to six times the level of heavy metals, like copper. What's more, they discovered that various flavor additives, which are often added to e-cigs, cause additional oxidative damage to lung tissue. This isn't after years of e-cig use, either. The negative effects "occurred after a few days of vaping," he says. "Chronic exposure may lead to even more damage."
These findings add to the fast-amassing stack of research revealing the many potential hazards of e-cigarettes. Since these smokeless devices are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they can contain any number of toxins, carcinogens, or other mystery chemicals. And because e-cigarettes are so new, the long-term health consequences of using them are unknown.
Even so, many people assume that, compared to regular tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs are the lesser of two evils. But that's not necessarily the case, says Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and a spokesman for the American Association for Cancer Research. "In the oncology community, we feel they are both evil," he says. "The big concern with e-cigarettes is lung tissue damage. Regular cigarette smoke contains 60 to 80 known carcinogens, which makes it very bad for the lungs too. However, hot e-cigarette vapor going straight to the lungs can cause actual burning and injury. It's a different type of damage — but it's still significant."
And that's just their immediate impact. "We still don't know the long-term effects that e-cigarettes can have on the body," Herbst says. "There is still so much to learn about them."
Herbst also thinks e-cigs are an unproven and even detrimental smoking cessation tool — which is, of course, a huge reason why people puff on them. "I treat people with lung cancer, so certainly my goal is to stop people from smoking," he says. "But these devices deliver such high concentrations of nicotine that they get people very addicted to the drug. If you need help with smoking cessation, there are other, FDA-approved forms of nicotine, such patches or lozenges, that would much better than e-cigarettes."
And because e-cigs crank out so much nicotine, Herbst also fears that they can be a gateway to tobacco cigarettes. "E-cigarettes are very expensive, so we worry that people will start on them, get addicted to nicotine, and then move on to regular cigarettes, which are generally less expensive and easier to get," he adds.
California has taken another step in its campaign against electronic cigarettes, with the Department of Public Health on Friday releasing video advertisements calling the devices toxic and warning they are being marketed to kids.
While cigarette use has plummeted in California and nationwide as the dangers of tobacco have become well known, electronic cigarettes – also known as e-cigarettes – have emerged in recent years as a popular alternative. Vaping lounges, in which customers can sample different flavors of the liquid within vaping devices, have sprung up around Sacramento.
Public health officials have sounded the alarm, emphasizing that e-cigarettes contain both addictive nicotine and chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects. They warn that the sweet flavors contained in vaping devices, which function by heating a chemical liquid into a mist that can be inhaled, appeal to young Californians.
“California has been a world leader in tobacco use prevention and cessation since 1990, with one of the lowest youth and adult smoking rates in the nation,” California Department of Public Health director Karen Smith said in a written statement. “The aggressive marketing and escalating use of e-cigarettes threatens to erode that progress.”
The new television spots suggest that e-cigarette makers are intentionally targeting young people. They compare e-cigarette purveyors to a tobacco industry that has been demonized for long concealing or downplaying the health hazards of cigarettes.
One, entitled “Kids Aren’t Alright,” displays images of young people with e-cigarettes and the text “for the next generation to be hooked by big tobacco.”
In “What Could Go Wrong,” an image of cigarette packs gives way to the words “lung cancer” and the claim that vaping is as addictive as heroin.
“There’s a lot the e-cig industry isn’t telling us about vaping,” the ad says.
Just about any substance introduced to the body can cause side effects – whether it’s ingested, inhaled or even just touched. The eliquids used in association with vaping are no different.
However, it can be hard to pin down exactly what the side effects of the liquid can be – or whether anything being experienced is actually from vaping.
This is because when we stop smoking, regardless of the method, our bodies undergo major changes during a readjustment period.
“Cold turkey” quitting side effects
Many people who quit cold turkey without any sort of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) report all sorts of strange physical effects, including:
- “Quit zits”
- Bleeding gums,
- Susceptibility to colds, the flu
- Various skin issues
- An increase in coughing (a good sign usually)
- Dry throat
Side effects of vaping
While many people appear to have a side-effect free experience with ecigs, aside from the general issues with continuing the usage of nicotine, the following are some of the side effects that may occur while vaping that can probably be attributed to in whole or part to vaping. These tend to be temporary.
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Rash/burning sensation on face
- Puffy/dry eyes
- Caffeine sensitivity
- Minor blood nose issues
The dry mouth side effect is very common due to the nature of eliquids.
One of the major components of most eliquids is polyethylene glycol, more commonly referred to as PG.
As well as eliquids, PG is also widely used in pharmaceutical and personal care products. One of PG’s attributes is that is it a hygroscopic liquid; meaning it attracts and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment; such as your mouth.
The dry mouth side effect is usually easily rectified by increasing water intake; i.e. small sips of water often. This doesn’t mean to say you’ll necessarily be sipping water non-stop, just that your water consumption may increase.
The dry skin issue can often be addressed with a hypo-allergenic moisturiser until such time that the body adjusts.
What appears to be a minority of people suffer minor blood noses. Again, this could be due to the drying effect of eliquids; particularly if they are high in PG.
In all the reports I’ve seen, the issue rectifies itself. Something that may help is to not exhale ecigarette vapors through the nose; particularly during the initial weeks.
Sometimes side effects may occur due to simply vaping too much and will disappear when ecigarette use is reduced.
In other instances, it may not be the ecigarette at all, but how your body is now reacting to other substances.
For example, I found after a few days into my electronic cigarette journey, I was getting a little anxious at times – just very brief flashes. I was concerned I wasn’t vaping enough, or too much. It was neither.
It turned out that how my body was now reacting to caffeine was the the culprit. After I reduced my caffeine intake (I used to drink at least gallon of strong coffee a day); this symptom disappeared immediately. I still enjoy coffee and reducing my consumption of it certainly hasn’t done me any harm.
Other reactions may occur due to an allergy to any or all of the ingredients of eliquid – such as the propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, flavourings or the nicotine itself. Adjusting levels of any component can sometimes bring relief.
As mentioned, some who have reported mild side effects have persisted with vaping and found the issues disappear after a short while without taking any sort of action. Others find they worsen; however it does appear rare for people to have to cease vaping altogether due to side effects.
E liquid mixes
E liquid is commonly comprised of 4 ingredients. These are – Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, Nicotine and flavourings. Flavourings and nicotine are both constants, meaning a fixed volume is added to each e liquid mix. The variable components – propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin can then be added in different ratios to produce varying vaping outputs. Follow our PG guide and VG guide for more information on these products.
E liquid containing only PG – most common with premade cartridges and look alike products (commonly known as “cigalikes”) you find in your local convenience store – is the least viscous of e liquids and produces the least amount of vapour.
- Delivers nicotine more efficiently
- Outstanding throat hit
- Less nicotine is needed to produce a good throat hit
- Least likely of all e liquids to cause a burnt or dry hit
- Most discrete of all e liquids due to its low vapour production
- Produces the most realistic or manufacturer designed flavour – PG is flavourless
- Quickest of all e liquids to steep due to its low viscosity
- The most likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling, those with even slight sensitivity to PG will react badly to 100% PG
- May flood certain atomizers due to its low viscosity and cause leaks – especially in hot weather!
- Produces a weak vapour
E liquid containing only VG is the most viscous of e liquid and produces the most vapour. This is the least popular product sold by vendors for many reasons. Firstly though, let’s look at the Pro’s.
- Gentle throat hit, ideal for those of you who previously smoked “ultra light” cigarettes
- The smoothest of e liquids
- Heavy vapour production – produce clouds of vapour
- Least likely of all e liquids to cause irritation or allergy reactions
- Least efficient at delivering nicotine – typically users would add a strength up in nicotine to compensate
- The weakest throat hit. Those familiar and enjoy this, maybe disappointed with 100% VG
- Sweetens e liquid – this may make sense for some e liquid flavours, but tobacco e liquids may become too sweet
- Causes vapour to linger – vaping discreetly or during a flight? Do not use 100% VG!
- The most likely e liquid mix to cause burnt or dry hits – this is less likely to occur though with bottom coil atomizers i.e. the Kanger EVOD and more likely to occur in colder weather
- Takes a long time to steep – 1 week+
It is our advice to try different mixes prior to trying 100% VG e liquid. Unless you have known allergy symptoms or are particularly against vaping PG we recommend the best mix to start with is a 50% VG 50%PG blend.
70% PG 30% VG
This e liquid mix was a popular standard a while back and even today, a common mix for many pre-made e cig refill liquid – this and 80% / 20%. This mix provides most of the 100% PG advantages, but produces more vapour.
- Absorbs nicotine efficiently
- Great throat hit
- Less likely to cause a burnt or dry hit
- Produces a close match to manufacturer’s intended flavour.
- Short steeping time
- All this with excellent vapour production
- Still likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling
- Will still flood certain atomizers due to its lower viscosity and cause leaks – especially in hotter weather
50% PG 50% VG
A perfect balance between the two, the “Jack of all trades” if you will.
- Absorbs nicotine efficiently
- Good throat hit
- Less likely to cause a burnt or dry hit
- Moderate steeping time
- Great vapour production
- Adequate throat hit
- A smooth e liquid
- Excellent vapour production – that doesn’t linger
- Still likely to cause throat irritations, allergy reactions and a general unwell feeling if you have high sensitivity to PG
- Will still sweeten e liquids slightly due to the VG content
- Not many manufacturers produce 50% / 50% , so harder to find
Choosing a supplier that offers your preferred e liquid ingredients can be time consuming and expensive. Most electronic cigarette vendors will offer e liquid mixes at their preferred mix ratio or the preferred percentages their supplier provides them. Few companies offer the flexibility companies like trueVAPE does due to the time and extra costs involved preparing custom orders.
Generally speaking, the majority will be fine with any e liquid mix ratio and we thoroughly recommend a 50% PG / 50% VG as good starting point for those new to vaping. While harder to come by, the good news is… we sell it!
When vaping, pay attention to any signs of discomfort, sore throats, rashes, stomach pains. Should any of these occur you will most likely have a high sensitivity to PG. It is recommended in this circumstance to move over to 100% VG e liquid mixes. If you feel ill, vomit or suffer headaches, stop vaping immediately! And lie down until it passes. You will most likely have suffered from a very mild form of nicotine poisoning. In this case, either vape less or lower your nicotine strength.
Cost of products would more than triple, which could crush businesses
The governor is proposing to tax e-cigarettes or, more specifically, the liquid that makes them work, the way cigarettes are taxed. He's also proposing an increase in the tax on cigarettes, but while the cigarette tax would go up by 60%, under the Kasich proposal the cost of their products would more than triple.
“My $7 bottle of liquid (15 ml), if this passes, will be $24.82. My 30ml bottle, which is $15.95 now, will go up to $49.75,” Adams said.
Meanwhile, vapers could buy their liquid from online retailers for much less. Popular liquids such as Johnson Creek sell for about $17 per 30ml bottle and even expensive premium brands, such as Five Pawns generally sell for less than $30.
The new tax would be more than just a burden on her Palm Beach Vapors store in North Ridgeville, which just opened in February and has enjoyed strong sales so far, she said. It would shut her down.
“The closest (other e-cigarette) store to me is about five and a half miles away, so I don't have a whole lot of competition around me, but this tax would put me out of business,” Adams said. “I'm handing out pamphlets to everyone who walks in here to tell them to go out and oppose this tax.”
She's not alone, as the Ways and Means Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives found out last Wednesday, March 4, when it held a public hearing on the issue.
The topic drew plenty of opposition, most of whom remained in the gallery while three speakers voiced the concerns of the “vaping” community, said Adam Schwiebert, legislative aid to Upper Sandusky Republican Jeff McClain, who heads the Ways and Means Committee.
One of those speakers was Frank Cahall, head of operations for Ohio-based Altsmoke.com, which has retail stores in New Philadelphia, Columbus, Cincinnati, Canton, Springfield, Gahanna and South Euclid. Like Adams, Cahall said the governor's proposed tax would put his company's stores out of business.
“We employ roughly 100 Ohioans in good-paying, full- and part-time jobs. All of our positions begin above minimum wage,” Cahall told the committee. “In the simplest of terms, if the governor's proposed tax increase on tobacco, and specifically the inclusion of vapor products in that tax, becomes law, you will be closing Altsmoke stores and will be sending our employees back to the unemployment line.”
Altsmoke is probably the biggest e-cigarette retailer in Ohio, with a national presence online as well. But it's not the only one.
Rick Dice, owner of a chain called E-Cignificance, says his stores in Parma, Mayfield Heights, Canton, Alliance and Massillon employ more than 20 people so far and estimates there are probably 200 or more people working at his stores and other chains.
“Everyone in Ohio is just going to buy their liquid out of state,” if the new tax becomes a reality, predicts Dice.
Dice also thinks the new tax, if passed, will kill his business.
Not only would he have to charge customers at his five Ohio stores the tax, but he would also have to apply the tax to his larger online business, he said. Meanwhile, Ohio “vapers,” as they're known, likely would buy their supplies from out-of-state vendors that don't charge the tax, he said.
Waiting to exhale
The topic is heating up among e-cigarette users and vendors. The American Vaping Association, an industry trade group, accused the governor of attempting to prevent Ohioans from quitting smoking. It claims the taxes on e-cigarettes are being raised more than the taxes on cigarettes, under the governor's proposal.“Gov. Kasich's plan to enact sin taxes on the sale of smoke-free vapor products is far worse than originally feared. ... This tax would actually amount to well over 150% of retail price. Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich is only seeking to increase the tax on smoked tobacco products like cigars and loose tobacco to 60% of wholesale price,” the association said in a statement last month.
It remains to be seen if legislators will line up behind the governor to snuff out e-cigarettes in Ohio. Schwiebert said most legislators, including his boss, still are studying the issue, in part because e-cigarettes are still a relatively new phenomenon.Adams said about half of her customers have told her that they'll simply go back to cigarettes, which she contends are far more dangerous, if e-cigarettes become too expensive. Currently, e-cigarette makers market their products as costing about the same, or a little less, than smoking regular cigarettes, but the costs varies depending upon the hardware that users buy to produce vapor from the liquid.
Cahall predicts Ohioans will simply either drive across state lines or buy e-cigarette supplies online if the tax is enacted.
“There is no question about this,” Cahall told the committee. “Why would savvy consumers pay double for a product if they know they can make a short trip across the border or buy online where the tax is not enforced? This proposed tax will not curb usage, but it will curb sales in Ohio and repercussions will be felt at the local level, severely affecting store owners and their employees.”
One thing's for sure: The fight is not over. The measure is part of Ohio's general operating budget, contained in House Bill 64. That bill also has other contentious issues being debated in Columbus, such as an increase on the severance tax for oil and gas drilling, and lawmakers have until the start of the next fiscal year on July 1 to vote on it.
A study published in journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology reports that the two brands of electronic cigarettes tested - Blu and Sky Cigs - contain levels of hazardous chemicals that are almost all indistinguishable from levels in ambient air. The few chemicals that were detected were present at levels between 50 and 900 times lower than that in cigarette smoke.
- "The e-cigarettes contained and delivered mostly glycerin and/or PG and water.
- Aerosol nicotine content was 85% lower than the cigarette smoke nicotine.
- The levels of HPHCs in aerosol were consistent with the air blanks.
- Mainstream cigarette smoke HPHCs (∼3000 μg/puff) were 1500 times higher than e-cigarette HPHCs.
- No significant contribution of tested HPHC classes was found for the e-cigarettes."
The authors conclude that: "The deliveries of HPHCs tested for these e-cigarette products were similar to the study air blanks rather than to deliveries from conventional cigarettes; no significant contribution of cigarette smoke HPHCs from any of the compound classes tested was found for the e-cigarettes. Thus, the results of this study support previous researchers’ discussion of e-cigarette products’ potential for reduced exposure compared to cigarette smoke."
The Rest of the Story
This study adds to the abundant and growing body of evidence that electronic cigarettes are orders of magnitude safer than tobacco cigarettes and suggests that brands of e-cigarettes that do not overheat the e-liquid may be associated with very minor absolute health risks.
This should put an end to the assertions of many e-cigarette opponents that electronic cigarettes are not any safer than tobacco cigarettes. It exposes those public statements as being lies.
This research also demonstrates how misguided the FDA is in its scientific judgment. Despite all of the evidence, with numerous studies demonstrating results similar to those above, with studies showing rapid clinical improvement in smokers who switch to e-cigarettes, and with studies showing that the acute cardiovascular and pulmonary effects of smoking due not occur with vaping, the FDA is not sure that smoking is not any more hazardous than vaping.
In the deeming regulation proposal, the FDA stated: "Many consumers believe that e-cigarettes are "safe" tobacco products or are "safer" than cigarettes. FDA has not made such a determination and conclusive research is not available." Clearly, the FDA does not believe that there is sufficient evidence at the present time to conclude that cigarette smoking is any more hazardous than vaping.
Furthermore, one of the problems noted in the deeming regulations was the fact that: "The vast majority of the respondents who were aware of these products indicated that they believed e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes...". Once again, the FDA is stating that smoking may not be any more hazardous than vaping.
Combined with the existing body of scientific evidence, this study blows out of the water the argument of e-cigarette opponents that we have no idea how hazardous vaping is and that we can't be sure that vaping is significantly safer than smoking.
Nevertheless, I'm sure electronic cigarette opponents will continue to make these assertions because they are being primarily motivated by ideology and not by science.
Study Confirms That E-Cigarettes Generate Virtually No Toxins Levels are about the same as those found in air.
Anti-smoking activists and public health officials who question the usefulness of electronic cigarettes in reducing tobacco-related disease often talk as if the content of the aerosol generated by these newfangled contraptions is utterly mysterious. While it may be plausible that the absence of combustion makes e-cigarettes safer than the conventional kind, they say, we can't know for sure without more information about exactly what vapers are sucking into their lungs. That stance is misleading and disingenuous, since we already have a pretty good idea.
A 2013 study reported in Tobacco Control, for example, looked at a dozen e-cigarette brands available in Poland and found that "the levels of potentially toxic compounds in e-cigarette vapour are 9–450-fold lower than those in the smoke from conventional cigarettes, and in many cases comparable with the trace amounts present in pharmaceutical preparations [of nicotine]." A new study of leading American and British brands, reported in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, confirms this point, finding that the levels of potentially problematic substances in e-cigarette aerosol are about the same as those detected in ambient air.
For their analysis the researchers picked three flavors of Blu eCigs, which account for about 50 percent of the U.S. market, and two flavors of SKYCIGS, which represent around 30 percent of the e-cigarettes sold in the U.K. They compared the output of these products with air samples and with the smoke generated by Marlboro Golds and two varieties of Lambert & Butler cigarettes. Here is what they found:
Analysis of the smoke from conventional cigarettes showed that the mainstream cigarette smoke delivered approximately 1500 times more harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) tested when compared to e-cigarette aerosol or to puffing room air. The deliveries of HPHCs tested for these e-cigarette products were similar to the study air blanks rather than to deliveries from conventional cigarettes; no significant contribution of cigarette smoke HPHCs from any of the compound classes tested was found for the e-cigarettes. Thus, the results of this study support previous researchers' discussion of e-cigarette products' potential for reduced exposure compared to cigarette smoke.
The e-cigarette aerosols consisted mainly of glycerin or propylene glycol (70 percent to 85 percent), water (10 percent to 19 percent), flavoring (3 percent to 11 percent) and nicotine (1 percent to 2 percent). The researchers measured eight kinds of HPHCs: carbon monoxide, carbonyls, phenolics, volatiles, metals, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, polyaromatic amines, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. The combined weight of all these in 99 puffs from a Blu Classic Tobacco Disposable (which proved to be typical) was less than 0.17 milligram. That's almost the same as the total amount of HPHCs (0.16 milligram) found in 99 puffs of air. By contrast, a single Marlboro Gold generated 30.6 milligrams of HPHCs—180 times as much as the Blu eCig. Per puff, the Marlboro Gold generated 3,357 nanograms of HPHCs—about 2,000 times as much as the Blu eCig.
You can find the specific breakdown by substance class and sample in Tables 4 and 5. But any way you cut it, the difference is enormous.
Does this mean e-cigarette vapor is about as safe as air? Not quite, since we don't know the long-term respiratory effects of inhaling the glycerin or propylene glycol that delivers nicotine into vapers' lungs. But whatever those effects are, it is safe to say they will not compare to the effects of smoking.
In light of data like these, anyone who implies that e-cigarette vapor is about as dangerous as tobacco smoke cannot be taken seriously. That includes Mark Leno, the California legislator who predicts that "we're going to see hundreds of thousands of family members and friends die from e-cigarette use, just like we did from traditional tobacco use." It also includes Ron Chapman, director of California's Department of Public Health, who recently declared e-cigarettes "a community heallth threat" in a report that includes panic-promoting pronouncements like these:
E-cigarettes do not emit water vapor, but a concoction of chemicals toxic to human cells in the form of an aerosol. The chemicals in the aerosol travel through the circulatory system to the brain and all organs.
Mainstream and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain at least ten chemicals that are on California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
You would never guess from such dire warnings that the toxic chemicals Chapman cites are present in e-cigarette aerosol at levels nearly indistinguishable from those in the air he is breathing right now. But since that appears to be the case, there is no justification for this sort of scaremongering.