What We Know…
e-Cigarettes are unregulated battery-powered devices that provide inhaled doses of vaporized nicotine solution. e-Cigarettes do not contain tar or other chemicals associated with combustion, however the nicotine cartridges may still contain questionable amounts of carcinogens. The nicotine cartridges may also contain chemicals such as propylene glycol and diethelyne-glycol (also found in anti-freeze). The nicotine comes in a cartridge that is heated using rechargeable battery power. According to the manufacturer, the flavour is similar to inhaled tobacco smoke, yet there is no combustion. e-Cigarettes are the size of a ballpoint pen and resemble a typical cigarette.
What’s the Big Deal?
e-Cigarettes are NOT a quit smoking aid
e-Cigarettes provide the user with a hit of nicotine, similar to cigarettes.3 Unlike the nicotine patch/gum/inhaler which provide a stable dose of just nicotine that you gradually reduce, the e-cigarette can help to maintain cravings and make it harder to quit smoking.
e-Cigarettes are Not a Safe alternative to Tobacco Smoking
Health Canada has banned the sale of e-Cigarettes because they may pose health risks that have not been fully evaluated1 . For more info, read here. Although e-Cigarettes do not contain tar or other chemicals associated with combustion, the nicotine cartridges may still contain questionable amounts of carcinogens.2 What’s even worse is that because these products are unregulated, they are sometimes improperly labeled.4 Product labeling may not match up to actual nicotine concentrations. So you never really know what you are inhaling!
What To Do?
e-Cigarettes may seem cool or a good way to quit, but they are just another tool by the industry to keep you hooked! They may be as dangerous as cigarette smoking and should not be used as a quit smoking aid.
If you are thinking about quitting smoking, try one of the proven quit smoking aids instead. Visit the your way section to find one that will work for you!
Visit a health professional at your campus clinic if you want to speak to someone about smoking or quitting.
Myths & Truths
MYTH #1: e-Cigarettes have no nicotine.
TRUTH: Some do and some don’t.
There’s actually no standard or consistent reporting on what, and how much is actually in e-cigarettes. Sometimes product labelling may misrepresent actual nicotine concentrations.2-4
MYTH #2: e-Cigarettes will help you quit.
TRUTH: The verdict is out on this.
e-Cigarettes provide the user with a hit of nicotine.3 It can help to maintain cravings and make it harder to quit smoking.
This is unlike nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), which provide smokers with a steady dose of nicotine that is gradually reduced.
*More studies are needed to assess the efficacy and safety of using e-cigarettes as a quitting aid.
MYTH #3: e-Cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.
TRUTH: Early evidence is suggesting that they are not safer than cigarettes.
No scientific studies have confirmed that they are safe to use. e-cigarettes do not contain tar or other chemicals associated with combustion, but the nicotine cartridges may still contain questionable amounts of carcinogens.2
1 Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic Cigarettes. (2009, March 27). Retrieved on February 1, 2011 from www.hc-sc.gc.
2 Westenberger, B. J. (2009). Evaluation of e-Cigarettes. Rockville, MD: US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis.
3 Trtchounian, A., Williams, M., & Talbot, P. (2010). Conventional and electronic cigarettes (e-Cigarettes) have different smoking characteristics. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 12(9), 905-912.
4 Trehy, M., Wei, Y., Hadwiger, M. E., Moore, T. W., Allgire, J. F.,…Westenberger, B. J. (2011). Analysis of electronic cigarette cartridges, refill solutions, and smoke for nicotine and nicotine related impurities. Journal of Liquid Chromatography, 34, 1442-1458. doi: 10.1080/10826076.2011.572213.