Just because they’re less toxic than regular cigs doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Everyone knows cigarettes are toxic and dangerous and cause lung cancer and other types of cancer, but what about e-cigarettes? These devices, also called vapor cigarettes, are marketed as an alternative to smoking because they contain fewer chemicals. E-cigarettes essentially deliver a dose of nicotine through inhaling steam, which users refer to as “vaping.”
So are e-cigarettes safe? Internist Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, admits that e-cigarettes are less toxic than regular cigarettes—but he still doesn’t recommend them.
E-cigarettes still contain known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde. And, of course, someone can easily develop a nicotine addiction if they begin using e-cigs, just as they would with regular cigarettes.
Although vapor cigarettes might be a better alternative to regular cigarettes for those who are already smokers and looking to quit, Dr. Knoepflmacher states that better, safer alternatives exist for attempting to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are a harm reduction, but they are not safe or healthy themselves.
One piece of good news: There is very little risk of secondhand smoke with e-cigarettes. That’s because the vapor in the device is mostly steam, so it dissipates quickly in the air and reduces others’ exposure to chemicals from secondhand smoke.
Still looking for ways to quit? Here are some of the amazing ways your body benefits when you stop smoking cigarettes.
Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.Preeti Parikh
Preeti Parikh, MD serves as the Chief Medical Officer of HealthiNation. She is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Westside Pediatrics, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and has completed post-graduate training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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We've been seeing a lot of people
smoking e-cigarettes out there.
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Are they actually better
than traditional cigarettes?
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We called Dr. Paul to find out more.
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Hi, Dr. Paul, e-cigarettes,
are they safer than regular cigarettes?
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You need to think of e-cigarettes has
basically a nicotine delivery system,
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that's what they are.
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Essentially, it's nicotine dissolved
in liquid which you inhale,
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it creates a water vapor and
you're getting nicotine.
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The question is you're
getting other stuff too,
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there's something that's heated there,
it's not burning like a cigarette, but
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there's something that's
increased in temperature.
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So we know that there's toxins
in there like formaldehyde,
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which is a known carcinogen.
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Clearly not in the same amounts that
you're gonna see with regular cigarettes.
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And is this something you would
recommend to your patients who are looking
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to stop smoking?
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You could think of e-cigarettes as
a harm reduction, you could use this as
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a way to stop smoking, but it's also
a way to get addicted to nicotine.
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I don't think it's ready for
primetime in that way,
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we have other good recommendations for
nicotine replacement, or
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oral medicines that people
can use to stop smoking.
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So, either way, it's not good to do it?
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I wouldn't recommend it,
it's not ready yet.
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With the vaping,
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is there harmful effects where people
who are inhaling it second hand?
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It dissipates incredibly quickly,
because all it is, is water vapor,
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it's like steam, basically.
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So whereas tobacco smoke
really hangs around and
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sticks to things,
it's got particulate matter.
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My guess is that e-cigarettes or the vapor
that comes from them, or the vaping,
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is gonna be dissipating so quickly,
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that there's not gonna be much chance
to be exposed to it secondarily.
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Thank you for your insight.
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