Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or personal vaporizers) are an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They are battery-operated devices that create a mist or vapor that is inhaled instead of smoke. The rechargeable battery powers a heating element called an “atomizer.” The element uses low heat to turn  liquid in the cartridge, which contains propylene glycol, glycerin, food flavoring and nicotine, into a fog-like mist.

There are many models of e-cigarettes available. Some look like traditional cigarettes, others look similar to a pen, some look like small flashlights, and some look like boxes. Some have LED lights, some have built-in liquid reservoirs, others have combined atomizer cartridges, some are tubular and some are even rectangular boxes. They come in all shapes and sizes and have different features for former smokers who wish to distance themselves from anything resembling a traditional cigarette or want a longer battery life and/or better performance.

In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control estimated that approximately 3.7% or 9 million adults used e-cigarettes on a frequent (daily or some days) basis. The bulk of e-cigarette users are former smokers who have chosen them as less-harmful alternatives to combustible tobacco. Many e-cigarette users begin by trying models typically available at convenience store, often using them as an occasional substitute for cigarettes, and then progress to more sophisticated devices as the benefits of e-cigarette use becomes tangible.

E-cigarettes are available in a variety of nicotine strengths allowing users to tailor the amount of nicotine delivered to their personal requirements. Those who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking often start with a higher nicotine level and find themselves gradually reducing the nicotine as they find themselves less dependent on cigarettes. This behavior is similar to that modeled by the nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges.

While many users initially choose flavors similar to tobacco, most find that the availability of alternative flavors increases the desirability of e-cigarettes. Various polls have been conducted over the years have found a consistent prevalence for fruit or desert flavors among e-cigarette users. One of the key issues that makes e-cigarettes a more personal experience is the wide availability of different e-liquid flavors. Many e-cigarette users will use more than one flavor profile during their day.

CASAA recognizes that there are many who have questions about the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes. To help educate consumers we have provided the following reports which should alleviate any fears, and answer any questions regarding their use. Additionally these reports give clear and convincing evidence to assist consumers in their efforts to advocate for the availability of e-cigarettes as a valuable smoke-free alternative.

E-cigarettes, vaping and public health

A report produced by long-time harm reduction advocate and former director of England’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Clive Bates. This report summarizes the concerns that have been prevalent in the news and answers them with honest scientific facts. You can read the report here.

Nicotine without smoke – Report of the Royal College of Physicians

This report was produced by the Royal College of Physicians, the worlds oldest body of medical professionals. The report extensively covers the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes and concludes “Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.” Read the full report here.

E-cigarettes: An Evidence Update – Report commissioned by Public Health England

The oldest public health commission in the world, and the first to recognize that smoking was hazardous to public health commissioned a report on e-cigarettes requesting that all the evidence be evaluated relative to the risk and benefits to public health as a whole, and smokers in particular. This report concluded “Smokers who have tried other methods of quitting without success could be encouraged to try e-cigarettes (EC) to stop smoking and stop smoking services should support smokers using EC to quit by offering them behavioural support.“. Read the report here.

Are e-cigs safe?

Any substance containing nicotine is not 100% safe, but electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco; a carcinogenic ingredient and they do not produce smoke. numerous studies support that an overwhelming majority of tobacco related deaths are a result of the smoke produced and inhaled by users, not nicotine.

Do e-cigarettes contain anti-freeze?

No. This myth came from a 2009 press statement from the FDA on electronic cigarettes. The FDA tested 18 cartridges from 2 companies; one of which tested positive for a non-toxic amount of diethylene glycol (approximately 1%). Diethylene glycol, which is occasionally used in anti-freeze, is not a standard ingredient in e-liquid and has not been found in any other samples, since.

The base ingredient for e-cigarette liquid is propylene glycol. Propylene Glycol is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA and EPA. It is used to in non-toxic anti-freeze and considered safe for small children and pets. Propylene Glycol is a common ingredient in many foods, cosmetics, medicines and fog machines for stage performances.

Do e-cigarettes cause cancer just like regular cigarettes?

The FDA discovered trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in e-cigarettes, which are known to cause cancer with high exposure. The amounts found were far too low to be definitively labeled as cancer-causing. An e-cigarette contains nearly the same trace levels of nitrosamines as the FDA-approved nicotine patch and about 1,300 times less nitrosamines than a traditional cigarette.

Can e-cigs help me quit smoking?

Electronic cigarettes are an alternative to traditional cigarettes; providing enjoyment without the stigma. While electronic cigarettes are not smoking cessation tools nor are they marketed that way, there may be anecdotal evidence that some people have reduced or eliminated use of traditional cigarettes.

What e-cigarette is closest to a real cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes have a few dissimilarities to traditional cigarettes that make them all the more satisfying. The best e-cigarettes on the market do not have to look like traditional cigarettes. It is really more important that they can accommodate a better quality battery and are equipped with delicious, authentic flavors. This enhances the overall performance of the product and the enjoyment of the vaping experience. For example, the tobacco flavor has a slightly sweet taste that resembles fresh tobacco, unlike the presumed burnt aftertaste of traditional cigarettes.

Is there scientific research on the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes available?

Yes! Please reference the studies below.

Population Surveys
Toxicology Testing