What is an electonic cigarette (e-cig)?
An electronic cigarette (e-cig) is a device which mimics the use of a regular tobacco cigarette. Like a cigarette, they produce vapour and give you the “throat hit” you expect from smoking. Unlike tobacco however, they contain no carcinogenic chemicals, tar, or any of the health risks associated with tobacco.
There are many variations on the design, but very generally the all contain a battery, an atomizer (vapourizer), and e-liquid/e-juice/juice. The device is activated either by pressing a button or simply by inhaling depending on the model, and produces a vapour which closely mimics that of tobacco smoke, but without the smell or associated health risks.
E-liquid is somewhat dehydrating so as if you didn’t need another reason, DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
95% of North Americans are not properly hydrated in the first place. If you don’t vape, drink more water. If you do vape, drink more water.
What is E-liquid/E-Juice?
E-liquid is the stuff that produces the vapour from an e-cig. It is heated by the atomizer and flashes to vapour which is then inhaled.
E-liquid typically contains 3 or 4 ingredients, all of which have been approved by federal health authorities to be safe for human consumption. There are some caveats to this statement which will be explained later. Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine are the two main ingredients and constitute 99% of the e-liquid. Both are glycerols and converted into glucose and ultimately metabolized in the same way as any sugar. This said, if you are diabetic you may want to do some research and consult your doctor before trying e-cigs. You can read about the uses of PG and VG in food here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerol#Food_industry
The other two ingredients are flavour concentrate (usually from naturally derived sources) and optionally, nicotine. The flavour concentrate is typically 95% PG or VG itself while the remainder is the same flavour concentrate used in beverages and foods. Nicotine (optional) is what gives e-cigs that kick you expect from smoking. Nicotine is a moderate irritant which is what you feel in your throat when you smoke. Nicotine is also a metabolic stimulant. You can read all about nicotine here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine .
PG/VG/Flavour concentrate are considered safe by federal regulators around the world. Their safety is rarely called into consideration except by people driven by the stigma against smoking.
Nicotine on the other hand, isn’t without concern. It is a moderate stimulant and is highly addictive. If you don’t already smoke tobacco but want to try e-cigs, we strongly recommend ordering e-liquids without nicotine. You don’t need nicotine if you’re not already a smoker and while nicotine is generally quite safe, there’s no sense in creating a dependence. Most smokers use e-cigs to quit smoking and will, over time, decrease the nicotine density until they are smoking 0mg.
PG/VG and the flavour concentrate are considered safe for human consumption by all governmental health authorities. When you hear about the health risks associated with e-cigs, people are usually talking about nicotine (or they’re simply arguing from ignorance or stigma associated with tobacco). As outlined above, PG/VG and the flavour concentrate are used in a wide variety of food and beverage. Nicotine on the other hand can be dangerous. Now when we say dangerous, we need to quantify what that means. Alcohol is far more dangerous than nicotine. Tobacco contains nicotine as well as known carcinogens and tar. Both are considered by health authorities to be “safe enough that they’ll continue to sell them so long as they’re being taxed”. This to me seems a little odd. Nicotine has been extremely well studied medically for 50 years. It’s effects and toxicity are well established. Nicotine is a moderate stimulant slightly stronger than caffeine. If you’re feeling especially scientific, you’ll be interested in reading about how nicotine actually operates within’ the human body here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinic_acetylcholine_receptor .
If you’re already a smoker, eliminating the tobacco is a big step towards good health. Not only are all the constituent ingredients of e-liquid already well known and their safety well documented, e-cigs themselves have been the subject of numerous unbiased research papers. The summation of these papers always reads something to the effect of “e-cigs and e-liquids, when properly manufactured in a controlled environment, pose significantly less health risks compared to tobacco smoke.”
Nicotine does have a relatively high toxicity, but this term again, should be quantified. Nicotine is considered safe in low doses. We’ll cover toxicity in the next section.
Thus far there are no known long term negative effects of e-liquid aside from the nicotine addiction, which is biologically harmless when used in moderation. The same certainly cannot be said for alcohol or tobacco, both of which have long list of negative health effects (though some alcohol, when used again, in moderation does present a few health benefits).
Long and short of it is this. If you smoke tobacco now, e-cigs are far safer. The ingredient list is 3 to 4 items long and all are considered safe in moderation. If you don’t already smoke tobacco, order e-liquid without nicotine.
Nicotine has a relatively high toxicity. Again we need to quantify “high” with some numbers. In non-smokers, or people who are not accustomed to nicotine, toxicity (ie: you’ll get sick) occurs at around 60mg in a healthy adult. Toxicity is somewhere around or above 120mg in long term smokers.
To put this into perspective, 60mg is the equivalent of about 2 packs of regular cigarettes, smoked back to back non stop. 120mg is the equivalent of about 4 packs of regular cigarettes. How many of us know a non-smoker who can smoke 2 packs of cigarettes in a sitting, or a smoker who can smoke 4 packs? Please raise your hand.
This said, we still take nicotine toxicity very seriously so we’ve done the math to compare cigarettes to e-liquid.
Our T2 atomizers contain 2.4mL of e-liquid. If you order 10mg nicotine density, this is 10mg per mL of e-liquid, thus a 2.4mL tank is 24mg of nicotine. A typical lifelong smoker will smoke less than two tanks per day (if they’re making an effort to smoke as much as possible.
Putting it all in perspective:
I smoked a pack (sometimes more) of regular cigarettes a day for 13 years before making the switch to e-cigs. If we simply ignore the high risk of cancer and emphysema and focus just on the nicotine, I was smoking about 25mg per day. After making the switch, I smoked about 1 tank (2.4mL) a day at 10mg nicotine density. That’s 24mg per day. I felt much healthier almost immediately. My lungs were clearing out the tar and I could run again. A few years on, I’ve realised that I really enjoy the act of smoking so I smoke up to 2 tanks a day but I’ve dropped the nicotine density down to 4-5mg/mL. So for myself, as someone who enjoys smoking nearly non-stop all day, I consume about 20-25mg of nicotine per day which is well below the lower toxicity limit. My friends and customers typically order 10mg to start but quickly drop this to 4-6mg after a few weeks and most typically consume a 10mL bottle of e-liquid in a week (that’s about half a tank per day)