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