Are E-Cigarettes Safe? Here's What the Science Says

November 2, 2018

No easy answer

Traditional cigarettes work by simple combustion: when tobacco is lit, it combines with oxygen and creates an inhalable smoke. E-cigarettes, sold by brands including Juul, Blu and Vuse, heat a chemical-­packed liquid that typically contains nicotine and often a flavoring agent, creating an aerosol. By delivering ­nicotine without tar and other nasty by-­products of combustion, e-cigarettes purportedly give smokers a healthier alternative to cigarettes while still satisfying cravings.

It seems like a win-win. But in practice, there is no consensus yet about whether or not e-cigarettes effectively help smokers ditch cigarettes. Vapes, as they’re called, contain fewer of the cancer-­causing chemicals found in traditional cigarettes (like arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde), but there is little long-term data about their effects on health—and preliminary science suggests that they may harm the lungs and heart. Plus, while e-cigs are made for and legally available only to adults, they’re popular among ­teenagers—­potentially priming a new generation for nicotine addiction and tobacco use, experts worry.

Full story via Time, featuring Silvia Balbo, PhD.