E-cigarettes are not smoking cessation devices and their use has been increasingly controversial since their appearance on the market. Manufacturers present them as smoking cessation aids because they deliver nicotine with the same sensory experience as regular cigarettes, but (supposedly) without allowing the same amount of toxins to be inhaled.

The disadvantages of e-cig

But it is precisely for this reason that electronic cigarettes are not suitable for withdrawal. The physical dependence on nicotine continues, only the form of consumption changes. Psychological dependence and habitual smoking behavior are also cultivated.

The use of e-cigs could lead to the loss of more than 1.5 million years of life

A recent study used data from censuses, national health and tobacco surveys, and existing literature to calculate an estimate of years of life potentially lost or gained due to the influence of e-cigarettes on cessation or initiation.

The study shows, at the population level, that the harm caused by electronic cigarettes outweighs the potential benefits.

While it is estimated that only 2,070 smokers who wanted to become non-smokers switched to e-cigarettes and stayed with them during the study year, the model estimates that an additional 168,000 non-smokers aged 12-29 years who start smoking through the use of e-cigarettes and become daily smokers by the age of 35-39 years.

“E-cigarettes could result in the loss of more than 1.5 million years of life, as their use can significantly increase the number of teenagers who end up smoking traditional cigarettes,” says the study’s first author, Professor Soneji.

However, this figure was based on an optimistic 95% relative reduction in harm caused by the use of e-cigs compared to traditional cigarettes. As alarming new studies show, e-cigarettes are by no means a “healthier alternative” to regular cigarettes and the 1.5 million years mentioned are probably a bit too euphemistic”.

The ingredients of e-cigarettes are dangerous to health

Many dangerous chemical compounds produced by e-cigarettes are now being reported, particularly carbonyl compounds (such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and glyoxal), which are present in the resistances and some of which are considered potentially carcinogenic.

The carbonyls are generated as a random by-product of the oxidation of the e-liquid (glycerol and glycols) when it comes into contact with the heated nickel-chromium wire.

Depending on the type of e-liquid and battery voltage, the compositions and concentrations of these mixtures vary. In some cases, extremely high concentrations of carbonyl compounds are formed, which could lead to various health consequences.

More conscious handling, better education and legal regulation are needed

Many smokers aim to become non-smokers, but don’t know where to start or how to do it. Good habits, no matter how difficult, are of paramount importance here.

The WHO has also recommended that governments ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, as they pose a serious threat to this particular group of people. The UN Health Authority has also called for a ban in enclosed public spaces.

Currently, the practice varies greatly from country to country: unregulated, only for adults, only legal as a nicotine-free variant, or completely banned.