Manasa Enja, M.D., Kavitha Srinivasan, M.D., Lee Smith, B.A., Steven Lippmann, M.D.
Electronic cigarettes have risen in popularity in recent years. Known as e-cigarettes, they have been promoted as being safer than tobacco products and as a means for smoking cessation. Rather unregulated, they are easily available on the internet.
These battery-operated electronic nicotine-delivery devices work by vaporizing a solution containing nicotine, propylene glycol, and many other substances. Due to their recent entry into the market, scientific evidence about the effects of exposure and potential toxicity is limited. However, certain health risk issues have been raised regarding their safety, especially for younger people.
- Inhaled e-cigarette vapors contain lead, cadmium, and nickel
- Heavy metal exposures are dangerous to the nervous system, liver, lungs, kidney, and bone marrow
- Toxic products in their vapors also include formaldehyde and various hydrocarbons, etc.
- The presence of such toxins may make using e-cigarettes a risk during pregnancy and lactation
- Electronic cigarettes are not consistently effective at helping people stop tobacco use; after failing at abstinence, many individuals then resort to dual use of both products, thus, incurring dual risks from e-cigarettes and tobacco smoke
- Physicians have a responsibility to advocate for e-cigarette regulation
- Doctors should teach their patients about these potential toxicities and encourage abstinence from tobacco products as well as from electronic cigarettes.