From Super Bowl commercials to late night talk shows, electronic cigarettes have lately received the spotlight of publicity. No wonder why 6 our of 10 Americans have heard about these smokeless devices known as e-cigs. But are their any dangers to using them? Are e-cigarettes safe?
This is a difficult question to answer due to lack of long-term clinical studies regarding the effect of e-cigarettes on human health. Currently, e-cigarettes are considered safe in general. Those who advocate that they are dangerous and unhealthy usually reference a number of reasons. Some of them are empty claims as they lack proof and any solid evidence. Here are a few of these electronic cigarette myths.
Myth 1. Nicotine Attracts People to Tobacco
While e-cigarettes have helped many people quit tobacco smoking, some people argue that it may work the other way, too. Addiction to nicotine may lure people to tobacco smoking. The EU recently issued a warning that e-cigs may be attracting non-smokers to nicotine. They argue that users are more likely to try tobacco products once they have experienced the nicotine vaping sensation. But this statement is not proven. The fact that some vapers move to smoking doesn’t mean that it’s e-cigarettes that caused them to smoke. To reach the conclusion that people who start with e-cigarettes end up using tobacco products we need to know what would happen to these same people in the absence of e-cigarettes. In science, we call this a “controlled” experiment. This experiment compares the effect of a condition to the effect in the absence of the condition. You cannot attribute a certain effect to a certain condition without knowing what the effect would be in the absence of the condition.
Myth 2. E-Cigs Lead Children to Addiction
The number of adolescents who try e-cigarettes is steeply increasing. But what most people don’t know is that the majority of these children were already tobacco smokers before they tried vaping. Specifically, only 3% had e-cigarettes as their first form of nicotine, according to a 2013 study.
Myth 3. E-cigarette Companies Target Children
Teenagers and students allegedly consist one of the marketing targets of e-cigarette companies through the production of flavors that supposedly appeal to children and teens. But this is not true. The industry’s goal is to make the product more appealing to adults. The device is not accessible to people under the age of 18. In fact, a survey showed that the average consumer in the industry is 44 years old. Moreover, the $100 cost of electronic cigarettes is certainly not kids-friendly. Interestinly, e-cigarette restrictions that aim at protecting children could be deadly for adults. Forbes columnist Jacob Sullum, whose daughter quit tobacco smoking thanks to e-cigs, explains that if the FDA bans e-cigarette flavors, it will make switching from (harmful) smoking to (healthier) vaping less appealing to adults who like the banned varieties.