Facts About Vaping

//Facts About Vaping
Facts About Vaping 2018-02-02T02:24:58+00:00

A Brief History

While the concept of a battery-powered device capable of delivering nicotine without smoke originated in the 1960s, the modern e-cigarette was invented by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and smoker. Hon’s creation was originally intended as an alternative to smoking because, in his own words, “quitting is suffering.” By most accounts, e-cigarettes first became available in the United States in 2007 and at that time, resembled a cigarette in size.

As technology has improved, more advanced devices have come to market which provide longer battery life and a wide range of options for smokers seeking an alternative to cigarettes. Many of these newer devices take the form of a refillable glass tank containing a replaceable atomizer head, or “coil.”

E-Cigarettes Are For Adults

Hon Lik created the modern e-cigarette to give smokers who weren’t able to quit using conventional methods an alternative. Currently, over 9 million American adults use e-cigarettes, with growing numbers turning to these devices as a gateway to being smoke free. Both vaping industry and consumer advocacy groups have consistently supported bans on sales to minors across the country.

In 2014, however, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have opposed bills in multiple cities, states and communities to do just that. Apparently, it wasn’t about the kids.

Speaking of kids: a lot of noise has been made about CDC surveys that supposedly prove that young people are vaping like crazy. While it’s certainly true that many youth are experimenting with e-cigarettes (while teen smoking rates plummet to historic lows), regular use is almost nonexistent in never smokers.

A study published in Oxford Journals also confirms that only a fraction of teens are using e-cigarettes regularly. A separate study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that of those teens using e-cigarettes, most use nicotine-free products. You should also know that no published studies demonstrate teens moving from vaping to cigarettes.

How Does Vaping Compare to Cigarettes?

Tar is a byproduct of the combustion process. Because e-cigarettes do not use combustion to deliver nicotine, there is no tar!

Formaldehyde is present at high levels in cigarette smoke and at extremely low levels in normal human breath. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms, when used under real-world conditions, e-cigarettes produce virtually no formaldehyde. Unfortunately, the study authors and mass media chose instead to focus on a study finding in which the device was configured to create higher levels of formaldehyde by overheating. Subsequent study has confirmed dramatically reduced levels as compared to cigarette smoke.

We had hoped to include a bar graph for comparison, but the levels in cigarettes are so much higher that we couldn’t make one that fits.

Diacetyl has been in the news recently; typically used as an additive for butter flavoring, this chemical made headlines in 2002 after workers in a microwave popcorn factory were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease. Following a Harvard study, scores of media outlets have mislead the public on this subject despite the fact that cigarettes contain as much as 750 times more diacetyl than the worst study result. There has never been a diagnosis of Bronchiolitis Obliterans in someone who smoked cigarettes without industrial exposure to diacetyl.

Heavy metals, present in cigarettes, are found in e-cigarettes, but at dramatically lower levels. In three cases, a prescription nicotine inhaler actually contains higher levels than daily use of an e-cigarette.

We had hoped to include a bar graph for comparison, but the levels in cigarettes are so much higher that we couldn’t make one that fits.

E-liquid: What’s in that stuff, anyway?

Most e-liquid is comprised of 3 primary ingredients, with nicotine being optional.

Nicotine – Many major media outlets and tobacco control groups erroneously refer to e-liquid as “liquid nicotine” or in some cases, simply “poison.” While it’s true that industrial nicotine is used as a pesticide, the nicotine used in e-liquid is functionally identical to the pharmaceutical grade nicotine present in patches, gum and lozenges. Very little research has been conducted on nicotine outside of cigarettes, but recent studies indicate that there may be significant benefits in preventing or treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In 2013, FDA changed its long-standing recommendation on nicotine replacement products to allow indefinite use.

Propylene Glycol (PG) is found in many products you’re already familiar with: coffee drinks, ice cream, liquid sweeteners as well as dozens of over the counter drugs. And yes, it’s also used in antifreeze, specifically because of its extremely low toxicity. Unfortunately, most criticizing e-cigarettes conveniently leave out this detail. In e-liquid, it serves primarily as a base for flavorings and/or nicotine.

Glycerol (VG) is commonly referred to as vegetable glycerin and is commonly sourced from plant oils or animal tallow, but can also be synthetic. VG is used extensively in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics. Its application in e-liquid is similar to PG. While being less effective as a flavor carrier, it also acts as a sweetener.

Flavorings are added because PG and VG don’t taste very good on their own. Unflavored e-liquid doesn’t really taste like much of anything other than a bit of sweetness imparted by the VG. With nicotine, it can have a peppery taste, but it’s not very appealing for someone used to smoking. There are a wide variety of flavors available from the thousands of small businesses across America. A recent survey of more than 20,000 vapers conducted by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association found that nearly 80% prefer non-tobacco, non-menthol flavors.