E-cigarettes and safety: FAQ

The question on everybody’s lips is: how safe are e-cigarettes?

In this post we hope to outline a few safety concerns that have been raised in the media lately and provide some evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes do provide a safer alternative to smoking.

Can you be poisoned by e-liquid

The Irish Examiner reported in March that in 2013, there were 1,300 cases in the US of poisoning by ‘e-liquid’ — a 300% increase on the year previous. The paper also reported that this number is expected to double by the end of this year.

In Ireland there was also a recent case in the media where two children were taken to hospital in because of reported poisoning by e-liquid.

Yes, e-liquid contains liquid nicotine which when ingested in pure liquid form can cause vomiting and nausea. However, the e-liquid we sell contains 1.6% which is 16mg of nicotine. This study shows how nicotine toxicity is unjustified:

“Nicotine is a toxic compound that should be handled with care, but the frequent warnings of potential fatalities caused by ingestion of small amounts of tobacco products or diluted nicotine-containing solutions are unjustified and need to be revised in light of overwhelming data indicating that more than 0.5 g of oral nicotine is required to kill an adult.”

There are 3 more points to note:

  1. The U.S. does not have the same CLP (Classification, Labelling & Packaging) standard as the E.U. The packaging of e-liquids here should identify clearly that there is a toxic substance inside and there should also be a “keep away from children” label, the same as any other potentially poisonous substance. Our products are clearly marked according to the laws set by the E.U.
  2. There has been one case of death by nicotine but this was an adult suicide.
  3. More people are poisoned in the U.S. every year by toothpaste; in fact toothpaste poisoned 20,306 people in 2012.

Do e-cigarettes contain carcinogens?

Carcinogens at ‘trace’ level are present in e-cigarettes; the same as licensed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products which are widely available. The detected carcinogens in e-cigarettes are comparable to NRT products and are 1000 times lower than tobacco cigarettes.

In a survey of 16 electronic cigarette studies, Cahn and Siegel (2011) found that just two studies detected trace levels of nitrosamines (chemical compounds which are carcinogenic)in the ingredients (but not the vapour) produced by electronic cigarettes.

The maximum level of nitrosamines found was 8.2ng/g. Each ng is equal to one billionth of a gram, so the maximum concentration of nitrosamines found was 8.2 parts per billion or 8.2/1,000,000,000. That’s a similar level to approved nicotine patches, which weigh in at 8 parts per billion. These have not been linked to cancer.

In contrast, Marlboro cigarettes contain levels of nitrosamines of 11,190 per billion.

Is second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes harmful?

We believe that e-cigarettes are being unjustifiably banned on public transport and in public areas like bars. Why exactly they are being banned is unclear as the second-hand vapour cannot be said to be harmful.

Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia found that electronic cigarettes were observed to be ‘99% less harmful than cigarettes’ and pose ‘no danger to users or bystanders’.

A 2012 US study found that:

“For all byproducts measured, electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.” 

A British study also found that the levels of toxic substances in the second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes were 9-450 times lower than in cigarettes smoke.

Another 2013 study in the Oxford Journal found that:

“Using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.”

We spoke in a previous blog post about the fact that nicotine was found not to be a dangerous drug. Therefore, if all that is emitted in second-hand vapour are trace levels of nicotine then surely it is time to reconsider banning vaping in public areas.

In conclusion, we fully welcome regulation and testing in the area of e-cigarettes as we are confident that once regulated and tested, they will become an accepted alternative to the problem of smoking in Ireland.

E-cigarettes and safety: our priority

As with every consumer product, safety and the safe use of the product is our priority. Our employees are trained intensively on the safe use of e-cigarettes. We would therefore be delighted to answer any of your questions about using e-cigarettes and storing them appropriately.

For more FAQ’s on electronic cigarettes, check out our previous post here.

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