Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

e-cigarette 2019

(Echo Grid, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Zineb Ajarra, a second year medical student at the faculty of medicine and pharmacy of Marrakech. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


A new safer alternative to smoking that offers the same nicotine hit, minus the deadly side effects of traditional cigarettes!  A revolutionary technology that could help millions of people quit smoking and save hundreds of thousands of lives. This is how electronic cigarettes are marketed nowadays! But, what are e-cigarettes? What are they made of? How do they function? What makes them different than traditional cigarettes? Are they really as safe as they claim to be?

An e-c cigarette in a battery operating electronic device that works by heating a cartridge liquid containing nicotine (some don’t), flavors and other chemicals into vapor.

The first commercially successful e-cigarette was created in china in 2003 by the pharmacist Hon LIK . In 2006, e-cigarettes were first introduced to Europe and then to the United States of America by 2007. It’s a very new invention. So there are no long term studies to prove whether they are safe or not. But we can already predict some of their side effects based on their chemical composition.

Electronic cigarettes are not made of tobacco and do not require a combustion reaction to deliver nicotine to the body. As a result, they do not produce smoke, carbon monoxide or tar. This is basically what makes them less harmful than regular cigarettes. However, most of them contain nicotine which can be as addictive as heroin and is known to harm teenagers’ brain development and cause premature birth or low birthweignt babies when consumed during pregnancy. In addition, e-cigarettes are loaded with hundreds of chemicals that include: glycerin which has been proven to increase lung and airway irritation at excessive exposure, Formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance that can form if the e-liquid is under or over heated and flavoring chemicals with various toxicity levels. Also, using e-cigarettes increases the concentration of volatile organic compounds and airborne particles that are very harmful when inhaled according to The international journal of hygiene and Environmental health

E- cigarettes come in different shapes and sizes. The most recent ones are Juuls shaped like USB flashcards which make them easy to sneak into schools. Thus, extremely popular among middle school and high school students. In a study made by the American National institute of Drug Abuse, the use of e- cigarettes among kids goes from 3.6% for eight grader to 16.2% for twelve graders. When asked why  do they smoke e-cigarettes? 66 % said just for the flavor, 13.7% don’t know and 13.2%  for the nicotine. And surprisingly enough, 30.7% of them started smoking combustible tobacco products within six months.

To sum up, e-cigarettes have not been in the market for a long time to evaluate their long term health effects and a lot of users are current or ex smokers. So, it’s hard to differentiate between the side effects caused by each cigarette type separately. Yes, e-cigarettes do not smell or produce smoke but they do contain potentially harmful chemicals that may cause cancer and long lasting inflammation resulting in bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease. When it comes to smokers, e-cigarettes are less harmful then regular ones. But, their marketing policy makes them appeal to non smokers and teenagers resulting in nicotine addiction, a  high risk of switching to regular cigarettes and  side effects that have yet to be proven by long term studies.

About the author

Zineb Ajarra is a second year medical student at the faculty of medicine and pharmacy of Marrakech. She is an active member of the association of medical students of Marrakech « AEMM » since 2017 which gave her the opportunity to participate in many activities aimed to raise awareness about some public health issues and to improve the quality of our medical education system. She also writes articles in The International federation of medical students of morocco’s annual magazine « I’m spirit ». She is very passionate about scientific research, personal development and innovative ways to study efficiently. That’s why she has recently started a youtube channel where she shares study tips and experiences to help and motivate other students.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

How much time has the ‘European Union of last chance’ left?

EU prepares for the worst case scenario as Turkey seems to be withdrawing from the migration deal

UN human rights ruling could boost climate change asylum claims

Costa Rica has doubled its tropical rainforests in just a few decades. Here’s how

Here’s how we need to change global supply chains after COVID-19

High anxiety calls for innovation in digital mental health

5 ways to integrate Syrian refugees into the workforce

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

The future of international election observation missions

Why cybersecurity matters more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic

DR Congo elections: ‘Excessive use of force’ in campaign must be avoided, says Bachelet

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

The EU Commission does nothing about the food retailing oligopoly

Why a coronavirus vaccine takes over a year to produce – and why that is incredibly fast

Humanitarian aid convoy to Syria’s Rukban camp: Mission Accomplished

The Oslo model: how to prepare your city for the electric-vehicle surge

Rising landmine blast toll in Afghanistan highlights long-term care needs of survivors

Have central banks missed the exit train?

This is how the world can get routine vaccinations back on track

China is now heavily endorsing its big investment flow in the Central Eastern European (CEE) countries

Pollution could be harming every part of your body. Here’s how

You’ve heard of 5G, but what about the quantum internet?

How do we build a #sustainableworld?

The Japanese idea of ‘chowa’ – and how Asia can thrive in the future

Good Governance in developing modern quality infrastructure systems

COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery.

How people without running water can wash their hands

Sexual exploitation and abuse: latest UN quarterly update

Mexico: UN chief saddened by pipeline blast in which dozens were killed

France is about to start giving free breakfasts to disadvantaged schoolchildren

JADE Spring Meeting 2017– day 1: Excellence awards, panel discussion, keynote speeches

Why developing new antibiotics is a matter of life and death

Would you want to live to 150? Top quotes on what it means to grow old

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

Chinese “BeiDou” GPS goes to market

DR Congo: Ebola outbreak spreads to eastern ‘no-go’ zone surrounded by rebels

Electronic cigarettes, a better alternative or a well-advertised product

MFF: Commission’s plan “impossible to implement” with Finnish proposal

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

5 technologies that will forever change global trade

3 leadership lessons from the age of coronavirus

The Changing Scope of International Economic Relations – Chinese Leadership in the 21st Century

ILO discusses world of work response to global refugee crisis

Main results of European Council of 18/10/2018

More Germans are swapping planes for trains because of climate worries

Japan must urgently address long-standing concerns over foreign bribery enforcement

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

Czech PM should resolve his conflict of interest as a matter of urgency say MEPs

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

IMF: Sorry Greece, Ireland, Portugal we were wrong!

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

Is Universal Health Coverage really available for all in the European Union?

Reality Shock

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

From his room with a view, UN chief takes to Instagram with an eye on hope and a brighter future

G20 LIVE: Fact Sheet from the G20 Leaders Summit and key outcomes (G20 Antalya 2015 Summary)

An all-out fight for the EU budget

Myanmar: Conflict resolution at ‘total standstill’, military commanders must answer for crimes against humanity

LUX prize will be awarded jointly by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. The second article on e-cigarettes in the Sting now which doesn’t give us a link to any study. Where is the article by “The international journal of hygiene and Environmental health” and the “study made by the American National institute of Drug Abuse”?
    E-liquid generally consists of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings. While the ingredients vary the liquid typically contains 95% propylene glycol and glycerin. E-cigarettes and fluid should never be sold to minors.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s