How Safe are the Contents of Electronic Cigarette Vapor?

Electronic Cigarettes are not currently regulated by the FDA, but does that mean we have no idea what’s in e-cigarette vapor? Of course not! There have been studies identifying the contents of electronic cigarettes and their vapor. It turns out we have a much better idea of what’s in electronic cigarette vapor than we know about the contents of cigarette smoke.

Unfortunately, many anti-smoking researchers are clinging to the idea that the contents of e-cigs are unknown and therefore dangerous. An anti-smoking researcher is quoted as saying “Smokers should stick with the FDA-approved smoking cessation products, such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum, which have been proven safe and effective.”

While NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) may be effective at treating nicotine cravings, cigarette addiction has other powerful behavioral components, such as the hand to mouth motion. Studies have shown craving reduction even with the use of nicotine-free electronic cigarettes, proving the ability of physical stimuli to satisfy cravings.

So what are the contents of electronic cigarettes and how safe are they?

According to studies, the primary components of electronic cigarettes are propylene glycol (PG), glycerin, and nicotine. The FDA focused on two chemicals including tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) and diethylene glycol (DEG) which were present in two studies.

While these chemicals were detected, they were found at trace levels. The maximum level of total TSNAs reported was 8.2 ng/g. This amount is comparable to the 8.0 ng in a nicotine patch. Electronic cigarettes contain .07-.2 percent of the TSNAs in tobacco cigarettes.

The FDA is troubled by the DEG found in one of the eighteen cartridges studied. Dr. Michael Siegel and Zachary Cahn suspect this detection is due to the use of a non-pharmaceutical grade PG. In fifteen subsequent studies no DEG was detected.

Of the estimated 10,000 to 100,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke only 5300 have ever been identified. Siegel and Cahn conclude that electronic cigarettes are comparable in toxicity to conventional NRT, and are far safer than tobacco cigarettes.