The Truth Behind the Vapor Myth

Jessalyn Chuang

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Electronic Cigarettes can resemble everyday objects such as pens or USB memory sticks.

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Electronic Cigarettes can resemble everyday objects such as pens or USB memory sticks.

MYTH: “E-cigs are safe.”

MYTH: “E-cigs can help you quit smoking.”

MYTH: “E-cigs don’t produce second-hand smoke.”

These are all myths that some people believe about electronic cigarettes! It’s important that people know the truth behind the vapor. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery operated cigarettes that deliver nicotine with flavorings through vapor. E-cigarettes resemble everyday objects, such as pens. While little is known about health risks of the use of e-cigs, e-cigs still contain the highly addictive substance, nicotine, a chemical also found in regular cigarettes, as well as other harmful chemicals. Some studies have shown that the vapor contains known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

How do e-cigarettes work? Well, an e-cig has a cartridge holding the nicotine solution, a heating device, and a power source. Simply puffing the e-cigarette activates the battery-powered heating complex, vaporizing the liquid in the cartridge, resulting in vapor, which is then inhaled or “vaped.” E-cigs are designed to work like tobacco by producing a flavorful aerosol that feels similar like tobacco smoke, supposedly with “less toxic chemicals” than those in regular cigarettes.

Unfortunately, despite some states banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, e-cigs are becoming increasingly popular among teens as e-cigarette companies often advertise a wide array of appealing cartridge flavors. In addition to their unknown health effects, there is also the concern that e-cigarettes may be “gateway drugs,” drugs that may lead to the use of other addictive, harder drugs, such as meth, cocaine, or heroin. This means that e-cigarettes can be considered on the same platform as alcohol, prescription drugs, inhalants, and the illegal drug, marijuana. E-cigarettes have not received FDA approval as the administration has not evaluated any e-cigs for safety or effectiveness.

To put it simply, though there haven’t been many studies done about e-cigarettes, e-cigs are probably just as harmful as conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause diseases and premature death.