An electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, e-cig, e-fag, personal vaporiser or PV, is an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking. Electronic cigarettes are no longer marketed as smoking cessation aids or tobacco replacement in most countries. There may be similarities between conventional and some electronic cigarettes in the physical design and the nicotine release, which may approximate the same amount of nicotine as a conventional cigarette. There are many electronic cigarettes which do not resemble conventional cigarettes at all.
Aside from their appearance, e-cigarettes are entirely different to tobacco cigarettes. In fact, they do not use tobacco at all. The ‘smoke’ that you see with an e-cigarette is not actually smoke at all. It is a mist that is produced by a battery powered atomiser built into the e-cigarette. This mist is created from a liquid that usually contains small amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol, flavouring, and water. The atomiser turns this liquid into a mist that can be inhaled through the e-cigarette’s mouthpiece, thus aiding in the simulation of real smoking.
All studies to date have shown that e-cigarette vapour poses no significant danger to users or to the people around them,including children. While tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals and dozens of carcinogens, the e-cigarette “smoke” is nothing more than a soft vapour containing a tiny amount of nicotine particles, propylene glycol and flavouring. Knowing this, parents should at least encourage the tobacco smokers in their lives to use e-cigarettes instead of tobacco cigarettes in any area where children are present. This will effectively elliminate the possibility that your kids might be harmed from the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
Whilst e-cigarettes cannot be considered ‘harmless’ (as they contain nicotine which is both addictive and a stimulant), all studies to date have shown that smoking (or vaping) with an e-cigarette is many orders of magnitude safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
A January 2013 report by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) talked about the second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes, and said, “Although e-cigarettes do not produce smoke, users exhale a smoke-like vapour which consists largely of water. Any health risks of second-hand exposure to propylene glycol vapour are likely to be limited to irritation of the throat. One study exposed animals to propylene glycol for 12 to 18 months, at doses 50 to 700 times the level the animal could absorb through inhalation. Compared to animals living in normal room atmosphere, no localised or generalised irritation was found and kidney, liver, spleen and bone marrow were all found to be normal.