With the medical world discovering with more and more alarming certainty that smoking is the cause of many deaths in America and around the world, e-cigarettes have become an increasingly popular option for people who want to give up smoking the real thing.
Since their inception around 10 years ago, a major element in the marketing of electronic cigarettes is that they are safer and healthier than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
They were promoted as providing smokers with a safe "smoke-free" source of nicotine, due to the fact they are "vaped" as opposed to smoked. As a result, no actual combustion takes place.
E-cigarettes work on the principle of heating liquids that emit a vapor which the user inhales. This is not the same as smoke produced by tobacco, and the liquids themselves usually contain pure ingredients. Tobacco, on the other hand, has a number of chemical additives which enhance nicotine absorption and increase the addictive quality.
Nevertheless, scientists have been cautious about describing e-cigarettes as safe. Some research has shown that what is being inhaled from e-cigarettes has a greater risk than scientists had first thought. For example, it was discovered that e-cigarettes deliver high levels of nanoparticles, which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
In spite of this, many people are still convinced that e-cigarettes are safe -- or at least much safer than tobacco. However, in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not been willing to confirm that since data is still sparse.
While much of the research has presently produced conflicting results, there is a consensus that e-cigarettes seem to pose less of a health threat for those still desperate to get their nicotine fix.
What remains to be seen is what happens healthwise to long-term e-cigarette users, research which can only be carried out in approximately 10 years time due to the fact electronic cigarettes are a relatively new innovation.
What is clear is that e-cigarettes are way healthier than smoking tobacco for a whole variety of reasons, and they certainly smell a lot less offensive to other people.
[Image credit: controversee-cigarette.fr]