Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or e-cigs, use a cigarette-shaped battery that attaches to a cartridge containing nicotine. The battery heats up the nicotine liquid, also called e-liquid or e-juice, and creates a vapor that simulates the taste and feel of smoking traditional cigarettes.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t actually burn, so there is no soot or residue from the combustion of paper, tobacco and other substances. Because “vaping” – the term used for inhaling the vapor produced by e-cigs – doesn’t subject the user to the smoke, tar and carcinogens of regular cigarettes, these are a safer, healthier alternative to smoking. While the medical experts are still investigating the safety of e-cigarettes, there is little doubt that nicotine is addictive. Inhaling vaporized nicotine can be as addictive as inhaling burning nicotine, so e-cigarettes, while possibly a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, still pose a greater risk when used by non-smokers.
E-cigarettes are also not being advertised as a smoking cessation aid because, in so doing, they would have to be classified as a drug and subject to regulation by the FDA. Surveys show that people using e-cigarettes shows that they can really help reduce the number and frequency of traditional cigarettes smoked.
Another safety issue arose in 2012 when an e-cigarette used by a Florida man blew up in his face. E-cigarettes use batteries, which can explode due to the electricity they produce. However, the likelihood of an electric cigarette exploding is about the same as your cell phone exploding in your ear. Some e-cigarette users modify their batteries to get more nicotine or a longer draw. Modifying batteries can result in explosive charges that can cause damage to the user.
Ahough not smoking at all may be healthier than inhaling anything other than oxygen, it appears that the use of e-cigarettes may offer a less toxic option to traditional cigarettes with minimal safety concerns.