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What are the health risks of electronic cigarettes?

A model exhales vapor while holding a dark electronic cigarette.

Model demonstrates the e-cigarette. (Photo: Flickr/planetc1)

What are the health risks of electronic cigarettes?

September 05, 2013

Q: I quit smoking a year ago, and I'm using the electronic cigarette now. Are there any specific risks to my health because of the electronic cigarette?

A: There is no question in my mind that the e-cigarette, while not a paragon of healthy living by any means, is far safer than conventional cigarettes. Conventional cigarettes have over 1,000 different chemicals, many of them known to be carcinogens, like formaldehyde and tar. The e-cigarette only has nicotine and thus has only the dangers of nicotine. So, on that basis alone there is less danger, as there are far fewer toxic substances.

That is, of course, if your e-cigarette is made in the USA. If it is made in other nations that have less stringent safety standards than we do, there is a chance of other chemical contamination. Also, the FDA thinks that the e-cigarette's vapor "may" have some trace chemicals that may be toxic. However, these same chemicals have been found in nicotine chewing gum, and in the nicotine patch. Actual cigarettes have chemicals KNOWN to be toxic.

-- Answer from Nurse Susan, a nurse and nurse educator on JustAnswer.

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