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E-cigarettes Facts

Published on 11/12/2017

E-cigarette Facts

The safety of electronic cigarettes is uncertain. However, they are likely substantially safer than tobacco cigarettes, since there is no ash, tar, carbon and carbon monoxide entering inhaler's lungs. There is considerable variation between vaporizers and in quality of their liquid ingredients and thus the contents of the vapor.Reviews on the safety of electronic cigarettes, analyzing almost the same studies, resulted in substantially different conclusions. In July 2014 the World Health Organization(WHO) report cautioned about potential risks of using e-cigarettes. Regulated US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) products such as nicotine inhalers are probably safer than e-cigarettes. In 2015, Public Health England stated that e-cigarettes are estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking. A 2014 systematic review concluded that the risks of e-cigarettes have been exaggerated by health authorities and stated that while there may be some remaining risk, the risk of e-cigarette use is likely small compared to smoking tobacco.

The long-term effects of e-cigarette use are unknown. Improvements in lung function and pulmonary health have been demonstrated among smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes. A 2014 Cochrane review found no serious adverse effects reported in clinical trials.Less serious adverse effects from e-cigarette use include throat and mouth irritation, vomiting, nausea, and cough. The evidence suggests they produce less harmful effects than tobacco. A 2014 WHO report said, "ENDS use poses serious threats to adolescents and fetuses." Aside from toxicity, there are also risks from misuse or accidents such as contact with liquid nicotine, fires caused by vaporizer malfunction, and explosions as result from extended charging, unsuitable chargers, or design flaws. Battery explosions are caused by an increase in internal battery temperature and some have resulted in severe skin burns. There is a small risk of battery explosion in devices modified to increase battery power.

The e-liquid has a low level of toxicity, but contamination with various chemicals has been found. The majority of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke are absent in e-cigarette vapor. Those which are present are mostly below 1% of the corresponding levels in tobacco smoke, and far below safety limits for occupational exposure.Metal parts of e-cigarettes in contact with the e-liquid can contaminate it with metals. Normal usage of e-cigarettes generates very low levels of formaldehyde. Later-generation e-cigarettes can generate high levels of formaldehyde, but only when they thermally degrade under conditions that bear very little resemblance to how the devices are actually used. Users detect the "dry puff" and avoid it, and the report concluded that "There is no indication that EC users are exposed to dangerous levels of aldehydes." E-cigarette users who use e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are exposed to its potentially harmful effects. Nicotine is associated with cardiovascular disease, potential birth defects, and poisoning. Studies of nicotine have associated it with cancer, but carcinogenicity has not been demonstrated. There is inadequate research to demonstrate that nicotine is associated with cancer in humans. The risk is probably low from the inhalation of propylene glycol and glycerin. No information is available on the long-term effects of the inhalation of flavors. Most of the cardiovascular effects of ECs are consistent with those of nicotine. According to a 2017 review, it is possible that ECs may have adverse cardiovascular effects on users, especially those who already have cardiovascular disease. However, this review also concluded that "the risk is thought to be less than that of cigarette smoking based on qualitative and quantitative comparisons of EC aerosol versus cigarette smoke constituents."

E-cigarettes create vapor that consists of ultrafine particles, with the majority of particles in the ultrafine range. The vapor has been found to contain flavors, propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, tiny amounts of toxicants, carcinogens, heavy metals, and metal nanoparticles, and other chemicals. Exactly what comprises the vapor varies in composition and concentration across and within manufacturers. However, e-cigarettes cannot be regarded as simply harmless. There is a concern that some of the mainstream vapor exhaled by e-cigarette users can be inhaled by bystanders, particularly indoors. E-cigarette use by a parent might lead to inadvertent health risks to offspring. A 2014 review recommended that e-cigarettes should be regulated for consumer safety. There is limited information available on the environmental issues around production, use, and disposal of e-cigarettes that use cartridges.

Passive vaping

The World Health Organization's view regarding second hand aerosol (SHA) is "that while there are a limited number of studies in this area, it can be concluded that SHA is a new air contamination source for particulate matter, which includes fine and ultrafine particles, as well as 1,2-propanediol, some VOCs [volatile organic compounds], some heavy metals, and nicotine" and "[i]t is nevertheless reasonable to assume that the increased concentration of toxicants from SHA over background levels poses an increased risk for the health of all bystanders". Public Health England has concluded that "international peer-reviewed evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from secondhand e-cigarette vapor is extremely low and insufficient to justify prohibiting e-cigarettes". A systematic review concluded, "the absolute impact from passive exposure to EC [electronic cigarette] vapor has the potential to lead to adverse health effects. The risk from being passively exposed to EC vapor is likely to be less than the risk from passive exposure to conventional cigarette smoke."

Addiction

Nicotine, a key ingredient in e-liquids, is a highly addictive substance, on a level comparable to heroin and cocaine.[155] Nicotine stimulates regions of the cortex associated with reward, pleasure and reducing anxiety.When nicotine intake stops, withdrawal symptoms include cravings for nicotine, anger/irritability, anxiety, depression, impatience, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hunger or weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. It is not clear whether e-cigarette use will decrease or increase overall nicotine addiction, but the nicotine content in e-cigarettes is adequate to cause or sustain nicotine dependence.

The World Health Organization is concerned about addiction for non-smokers, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse said e-cigarettes could maintain nicotine addiction in those who are attempting to quit. The limited available data suggests that the likelihood of abuse from e-cigarettes is smaller than traditional cigarettes. A 2014 systematic review found that the concerns that e-cigarettes could lead non-smokers to start smoking are unsubstantiated. No long-term studies have been done on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in treating tobacco addiction, but some evidence suggests that dual use of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes may be associated with greater nicotine dependence.

Nicotine yield but the nicotine content of the cigarette is only weakly correlated with the levels of nicotine in the smoker's bloodstream. The amount of nicotine in the e-cigarette aerosol varies widely either from puff-to-puff or among products of the same company. In practice e-cigarette users tend to reach lower blood nicotine concentrations than smokers, particularly when the users are inexperienced or using earlier-generation devices. Nicotine in tobacco smoke is absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly, and e-cigarette vapor is relatively slow in this regard. The concentration of nicotine in e-liquid ranges up to 36 mg/mL. New EU regulations cap this at a maximum of 2% (20 mg/mL), but this is an arbitrary ceiling based on limited data. In practice the nicotine concentration in an e-liquid is not a reliable guide to the amount of nicotine that reaches the bloodstream.

Smoking a traditional cigarette yields between 0.5 and 1.5 mg of nicotine,

History

The earliest e-cigarette can be traced to American Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented "a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette" that involved "replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air". This device produced flavored steam without nicotine. The patent was granted in 1965. Gilbert's invention was ahead of its time. There were prototypes, but it received little attention and was never commercialized because smoking was still fashionable at that time. Gilbert said in 2013 that today's electric cigarettes follow the basic design set forth in his original patent.

Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and inventor who worked as a research pharmacist for a company producing ginseng products, is credited with the invention of the modern e-cigarette. Lik quit smoking after his father, also a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. In 2001, he thought of using a high frequency, piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporize a pressurized jet of liquid containing nicotine. This design creates a smoke-like vapor. Lik said that using resistance heating obtained better results and the difficulty was to scale down the device to a small enough size. Lik's invention was intended to be an alternative to smoking.

Ruyan electronic cigar first generation.
The Ruyan e-cigar was first launched in China in 2004.

Hon Lik registered a patent for the modern e-cigarette design in 2003. The e-cigarette was first introduced to the Chinese domestic market in 2004. Many versions made their way to the U.S., sold mostly over the Internet by small marketing firms. E-cigarettes entered the European market and the US market in 2006 and 2007. The company that Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, registered an international patent in November 2007. The company changed its name to Ruyan (如烟, literally "Resembling smoking") later the same month and started exporting its products. Many US and Chinese e-cig makers copied his designs illegally, so Lik has not received much financial reward for his invention (although some US manufacturers have compensated him through out of court settlements). Ruyan later changed its company name to Dragonite International Limited. Most e-cigarettes today use a battery-powered heating element rather than the earlier ultrasonic technology design.

When e-cigarettes entered the international market, some users were dissatisfied with their performance, and the e-cigarette continued to evolve from the first generation three-part device. In 2007 British entrepreneurs Umer and Tariq Sheikh invented the cartomizer. This is a mechanism that integrates the heating coil into the liquid chamber. They launched this new device in the UK in 2008 under their Gamucci brand, and the design is now widely adopted by most "cigalike" brands. Other users tinkered with various parts to produce more satisfactory homemade devices, and the hobby of "modding" was born. The first mod to replace the e-cigarette's case to accommodate a longer-lasting battery, dubbed the "screwdriver", was developed by Ted and Matt Rogers in 2008. Other enthusiasts built their own mods to improve functionality or aesthetics. When pictures of mods appeared at online vaping forums many people wanted them, so some mod makers produced more for sale.

The demand for customizable e-cigarettes prompted some manufacturers to produce devices with interchangeable components that could be selected by the user. In 2009, Joyetech developed the eGo series which offered the power of the screwdriver model and a user-activated switch to a wide market. The clearomizer was invented in 2009. Originating from the cartomizer design, it contained the wicking material, an e-liquid chamber, and an atomizer coil within a single clear component. The clearomizer allows the user to monitor the liquid level in the device. Soon after the clearomizer reached the market, replaceable atomizer coils and variable voltage batteries were introduced. Clearomizers and eGo batteries became the best-selling customizable e-cigarette components in early 2012.

International tobacco companies dismissed e-cigarettes as a fad at first. However, recognizing the development of a potential new market sector that could render traditional tobacco products obsolete, they began to produce and market their own brands of e-cigarettes and acquire existing e-cigarette companies. blu eCigs, a prominent US e-cigarette manufacturer, was acquired by Lorillard Inc. in 2012. British American Tobacco was the first tobacco business to sell e-cigarettes in the UK. They launched Vype in 2013, while Imperial Tobacco's Fontem Ventures acquired the intellectual property owned by Hon Lik through Dragonite International Limited for $US 75 million in 2013 and launched Puritane in partnership with Boots UK. On 1 October 2013 Lorillard Inc. acquired another e-cigarette company, this time the UK based company SKYCIG. SKY was rebranded as blu. On 3 February 2014, Altria Group, Inc. acquired popular electronic cigarette brand Green Smoke for $110 million. The deal was finalized in April 2014 for $110 million with $20 million in incentive payments.Altria also markets its own e-cigarette, the MarkTen, while Reynolds American has entered the sector with its Vuse product. Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco firm, purchased UK's Nicocigs in June 2014. On 30 April 2015, Japan Tobacco bought the US Logic e-cigarette brand. Japan Tobacco also bought the UK E-Lites brand in June 2014. On 15 July 2014, Lorillard sold blu to Imperial Tobacco as part of a deal for $7.1 billion.

In 2014, dollar sales of customizable e-cigarettes and e-liquid surpassed sales of cigalikes in the US, despite the fact that customizables are less expensive.

Society and culture

Consumers of e-cigarettes, sometimes called "vapers", have shown passionate support for e-cigarettes that other nicotine replacement therapies did not receive. This suggests e-cigarettes have potential mass appeal that could challenge combustible tobacco's market position.

A subculture of "vapers" has emerged. Members of this emerging subculture often see e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking, and some view it as a hobby. The online forum Electronic Cigarette Forum was one of the first major communities. It and other online forums, such as UKVaper.org, were the origins of the hobby of modding. There are also groups on Facebook and Reddit. Online forums based around modding have grown in the vaping community. Vapers energetically embrace activities associated with e-cigarettes and sometimes act as unpaid evangelists according to a 2014 review. A 2014 Postgraduate Medical Journal editorial stated that e-cigarette companies have a substantial online presence, as well as many individual vapers who blog and tweet about e-cigarette related products. The editorial stated that vapers "also engage in grossly offensive online attacks on anyone who has the temerity to suggest that ENDS are anything other than an innovation that can save thousands of lives with no risks". A 2014 review stated that tobacco and e-cigarette companies interact with consumers for their policy agenda. The companies use websites, social media, and marketing to get consumers involved in opposing bills that include e-cigarettes in smoke-free laws. The same review said this is similar to tobacco industry activity going back to the 1980s. These approaches were used in Europe to minimize the EU Tobacco Product Directive in October 2013. True grassroots lobbying also influenced the TPD decision. Rebecca Taylor, a member of the European Parliament, stated, "to say it's an orchestrated campaign is absolute rubbish."Contempt for "big tobacco" is part of vaping culture.

E-cigarette user blowing a large cloud of aerosol (vapor). This activity is known as cloud-chasing.
E-cigarette user blowing a cloud of aerosol (vapor). The activity is known as cloud-chasing.

Large gatherings of vapers, called vape meets, take place around the US. They focus on e-cig devices, accessories, and the lifestyle that accompanies them. Vapefest, which started in 2010, is an annual show hosted by different cities. People attending these meetings are usually enthusiasts that use specialized, community-made products not found in convenience stores or gas stations. These products are mostly available online or in dedicated "vape" storefronts where mainstream e-cigarettes brands from the tobacco industry and larger e-cig manufacturers are not as popular. Some vape shops have a vape bar where patrons can test out different e-liquids and socialize. The Electronic Cigarette Convention in North America which started in 2013, is an annual show where companies and consumers meet up.

A subclass of vapers configure their atomizers to produce large amounts of vapor by using low-resistance heating coils. This practice is called "cloud-chasing" By using a coil with very low resistance, the batteries are stressed to a potentially unsafe extent. This could present a risk of dangerous battery failures. As vaping comes under increased scrutiny, some members of the vaping community have voiced their concerns about cloud-chasing, claiming the practice gives vapers a bad reputation when doing it in public. The Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2014 was "vape".

Regulation

A no smoking or vaping sign from the US
A no smoking or vaping sign from the US.

Regulation of e-cigarettes varies across countries and states, ranging from no regulation to banning them entirely. Others have introduced strict restrictions and some have licensed devices as medicines such as in the UK. As of 2015, around two thirds of major nations have regulated e-cigarettes in some way. Because of the potential relationship with tobacco laws and medical drug policies, e-cigarette legislation is being debated in many countries. The companies that make e-cigarettes have been pushing for laws that support their interests. In 2016 the US Department of Transportation banned the use of e-cigarettes on commercial flights. This regulation applies to all flights to and from the US.

The legal status of e-cigarettes is currently pending in many countries. Many countries such as Brazil, Singapore, the Seychelles, Uruguay, and Norway have banned e-cigarettes. In Canada, they are technically illegal to sell, as no nicotine-containing e-fluid is approved by Health Canada, but this is generally unenforced and they are commonly available for sale Canada-wide. In the US and the UK, the use and sale to adults of e-cigarettes are legal. As of August 8, 2016, the FDA extended its regulatory power to include e-cigarettes. Under this ruling the FDA will evaluate certain issues, including ingredients, product features and health risks, as well their appeal to minors and non-users. The FDA rule also bans access to minors. A photo ID is required to buy e-cigarettes  and their sale in all-ages vending machines is not permitted. In May 2016 the FDA used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to deem e-cigarette devices and e-liquids to be tobacco products, which meant it intended to regulate the marketing, labelling, and manufacture of devices and liquids; vape shops that mix e-liquids or make or modify devices were considered manufacturing sites that needed to register with FDA and comply with good manufacturing practice regulation. E-cigarette and tobacco companies have recruited lobbyists in an effort to prevent the FDA from evaluating e-cigarette products or banning existing products already on the market.

In February 2014 the European Parliament passed regulations requiring standardization and quality control for liquids and vaporizers, disclosure of ingredients in liquids, and child-proofing and tamper-proofing for liquid packaging. In April 2014 the FDA published proposed regulations for e-cigarettes along similar lines In the US some states tax e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and some state and regional governments have broadened their indoor smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. As of 9 October 2015, at least 48 states and 2 territories banned e-cigarette sales to minors.

E-cigarettes have been listed as drug delivery devices in several countries because they contain nicotine, and their advertising has been restricted until safety and efficacy clinical trials are conclusive. Since they do not contain tobacco, television advertising in the US is not restricted. Some countries have regulated e-cigarettes as a medical product even though they have not approved them as a smoking cessation aid. A 2014 review stated the emerging phenomenon of e-cigarettes has raised concerns in the health community, governments, and the general public and recommended that e-cigarettes should be regulated to protect consumers. It added, "heavy regulation by restricting access to e-cigarettes would just encourage continuing use of much unhealthier tobacco smoking." A 2014 review said these products should be considered for regulation in view of the "reported adverse health effects".

Marketing

A 2014 review said, "the e-cigarette companies have been rapidly expanding using aggressive marketing messages similar to those used to promote cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s." E-cigarettes and nicotine are regularly promoted as safe and beneficial in the media and on brand websites. While advertising of tobacco products is banned in most countries, television and radio e-cigarette advertising in some countries may be indirectly encouraging traditional cigarette smoking. There is no evidence that the cigarette brands are selling e-cigarettes as part of a plan to phase out traditional cigarettes, despite some claiming to want to cooperate in "harm reduction". In the US, six large e-cigarette businesses spent $59.3 million on promoting e-cigarettes in 2013.

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