So what is an e-cigarette? Essentially, an e-cigarette is a metal tube with a small cylinder in the middle which contains liquid nicotine and a battery-operated heating element. When the nicotine is heated, it becomes a vapor, which is then inhaled. Unlike tobacco products which contain nicotine and over 4,000 other chemicals including cancer-causing carcinogens, e-cigarettes only contain nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin flavoring and distilled water.
E-cigarettes were introduced into the U.S. around 1960, but did not start gaining popularity until about a decade ago. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that at least 1.8 million Americans have tried e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, the lack of government regulation has caused a misrepresentation of the effects of e-cigarettes and other smoke-free products, causing the public to think they are safer than traditional smoking tools. E-cigarettes, like tobacco products, still contain nicotine and some research findings have indicated that it may be more beneficial for consumers to use who are looking to quit smoking. However, e-cigarettes can be just as addictive as tobacco cigarettes and stopping can suddenly cause withdrawal symptoms and individuals may still experience high blood pressure and/or have an increased heart rate.
E-cigarettes tasting like candy or fruit are also becoming more and more popular amongst many teens in the United States (U.S.). According to a study by the Journal of Adolescent Health, about 1 in 30 students in grades 6 through 12, currently use these products, a near 50 percent increase since 2011. Since, e-cigarettes contain no tobacco, they are not subject to U.S. tobacco laws, which means that they can be purchased without proof of age, which is why it more appealing to kids. Critics argue that without regulations forbidding the sale of e-cigarettes to kids under the age of 18, this may encourage kids to develop a lifelong nicotine addiction or lead them to try the real thing.
At this time there is simply not enough research regarding e-cigarettes that would indicate the long-term effects of using these products, or if they are less dangerous than tobacco products. As some researchers point out, you could be trading one addiction for another.