No, e-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to regular cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol to be inhaled. The liquid contains nicotine, flavorings and other additives. These e-liquids are produced and sold without regulations for manufacturing, purity standards or labeling.
There are many unhealthy risks to e-cigarettes. Extracting nicotine from tobacco may produce harmful impurities like nitrosamines; the flavorings in e-liquids may be safe for ingestion, but not inhalation; e-cigarettes produce high doses of fine particles that can cause lung diseases; and hazardous compounds and carcinogens have been detected in e-liquids, including formaldehyde, benzene and lead.
A 2016 report by the Surgeon General stated that “e-cigarette use among US youth and young adults is now a major public health concern.” In youth, exposure to the nicotine in e-cigarettes can disrupt the parts of the brain that control attention and learning, lower impulse control and increase mood disorders.
Unfortunately, the marketing of e-cigarettes has led consumers to believe they are a healthy alternative. More research is needed to understand the health consequences of e-liquids and e-cigarettes.
Dana H. Breeding, RN, BSN, CTTS
RN Health Educator and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Fishersville | 540.332.4988