If you’re at all familiar with e-cigarettes, you’ve heard about some of their benefits and have probably had your interest piqued. However, much of this information may come from vendors’ websites, and it’s hard to be certain that a vendor will be willing to provide a straightforward explanation of the pros and cons of e-cigarettes. As a person who has used electronic cigarettes full-time for more than two years, I feel rather qualified to discuss e-cigarettes and have no problem discussing e-cigarette pros and cons openly. Although I believe that e-cigarettes are ideal for most people who won’t or can’t quit smoking, they may not be for everyone. This list of e-cigarette pros and cons will give you a balanced perspective and help you make a more informed purchase. When you’re ready to choose your first e-cigarette, take a look at my article about the best e-cigarette for beginners before you decide.
E-Cigarette Pros and Cons: The Benefits
E-Cigarettes and Health Benefits
The primary thing that makes most people consider e-smoking, I think, is the potential health benefits that it can have as an alternative to tobacco. The substance that you inhale — e-liquid — typically has four ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and food-grade flavors. Cigarette smoke contains substances such as carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, ammonia, cyanide and acetone among many others. So, it may be possible that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative. In fact, the Boston University School of Public Health has gone on record saying that “few, if any, chemicals at levels detected in electronic cigarettes raise serious health concerns.” However, the study did not track long-term e-smokers for any changes in health.
E-Cigarettes and Saving Money
If you aren’t considering switching to e-cigarettes for health reasons, you probably find the cost of e-cigarettes to be the most appealing benefit among the e-cigarette pros and cons. If you switch to e-cigarettes full-time and stop smoking completely, you can expect to save at least $2,000 per year by e-smoking. Although purchasing a starter kit may be a bit of an investment, your regular e-liquid purchases will cost as little as $20.00 or so per week.
E-Cigarettes and Secondhand Smoke
Let’s face it; non-smokers hate being around cigarette smoke. It aggravates allergies, stings eyes, smells awful and lingers in the air for what feels like an eternity. E-cigarette vapor has a mild scent that lingers in the air for just a second or two before fading away permanently. It smells nothing like smoke. In most cases, you can’t smell e-cigarette vapor at all unless you are next to the person using the e-cigarette. I’ve even found a company that produces an e-cigarette cartridge designed to produce invisible vapor.
E-Cigarettes and Self-Image
I think it’s possible that the persecution a person faces over years of smoking can potentially lead to a negative self-image. Smoking is a powerful addiction; it becomes part of who you are. You’ve probably been asked not to smoke in certain places, might have doused yourself in perfume or cologne to get the smell out and wondered if people avoided you in cramped spaces because you smelled like smoke. Who wouldn’t develop a negative self-image under these circumstances? E-cigarettes leave no physical signs such as smelly rooms, clothes and hair. Knowing that you smell nice can improve your self image and may even lead to subtle changes in the way people behave around you.
E-Cigarettes and Smoking Bans
One of the most attractive benefits on this list of e-cigarette pros and cons is the fact that you can use an e-cigarette in many places where smoking isn’t allowed. While it’s always wise to get confirmation that it’s allowed before using your e-cigarette in public, many bars, restaurants and workplaces allow e-smoking. Likewise, it would be difficult for any hotel or rental car agency to find out about your e-cigarette use. Having less frequent nicotine fits is definitely a good thing.
E-Cigarette Pros and Cons: The Drawbacks
E-Cigarettes and Health Risks
No list of e-cigarette pros and cons would be complete without discussing the drawbacks of e-smoking. In fact, it turns out that health can potentially be either a benefit or a drawback. There are some potential side effects associated with e-cigarettes and it’s important to be aware of those before you get started. For example, some e-cigarette owners have reported dehydration, perhaps because of propylene glycol’s ability to absorb and trap water. It’s a good idea to drink a little extra water while e-smoking to counter this. In addition, some e-smokers have discovered that they are sensitive or allergic to propylene glycol. Using e-liquids made entirely from vegetable glycerin can help you avoid this if you suffer any ill effects from propylene glycol-based e-liquids. Nicotine overdose is also a possibility if someone were to drink e-liquid from a bottle, although I have not heard of this ever happening.
So, those are the short-term health risks of e-cigarettes. The long-term risks are still unknown. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are two common additives in products such as food and cosmetics, but no one knows the long-term effects of inhaling them. In addition, there seems to be conflicting information regarding whether or not nicotine on its own is a carcinogen. We do know, however, that nicotine can have unwanted effects on the circulatory system and blood sugar. Nicotine is also dangerous during pregnancy and can interfere with breastfeeding. So, it is important to consider all of these factors and consult a doctor before using e-cigarettes. It’s best for your health if you don’t use any product containing nicotine at all. If that isn’t an option, consider the e-cigarette pros and cons and decide for yourself whether using e-cigarettes might be better than continuing to smoke.
E-Cigarettes and Battery Explosions
You may have seen stories about e-cigarette battery explosions and wondered about their truthfulness. In 2012, services such as CBS News reported that a Florida man had been injured by a battery explosion while he was using an e-cigarette, resulting in severe damage to his mouth, tongue and teeth. I have seen other reports of e-cigarette battery explosions as well, but these have come from unreliable sources such as forums and blogs. When you use any battery, you’re taking certain risks. Battery explosions have happened in cars, computers and mobile phones, and there’s a slight risk of the same thing happening with an e-cigarette battery. So, when you consider the list of e-cigarette pros and cons, this drawback seems mild compared to the massive potential drawbacks of smoking. Although the incident in Florida was horrible, you’re taking the same risk every day with your other battery-powered devices.
E-Cigarettes and Real Taste
I’ve put the taste of e-cigarettes into the “drawbacks” area of this list of e-cigarette pros and cons because first-time e-smokers who hope that e-cigarettes will taste like real cigarettes may initially be put off. E-cigarette vendors who claim their products taste like real cigarettes are to blame for this; if they were honest about the taste of e-cigarettes, there’d be no risk of disappointment. The simple fact is that while some e-liquids do taste very much like real tobacco, smoke is what gives real cigarettes their taste. Unless your e-cigarette contains burning tobacco, it won’t taste like a real cigarette. Regardless, e-cigarettes can taste incredible. As soon as your sense of taste starts to return, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to enjoy those filthy cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes and Governmental Regulation
One of the greatest drawbacks on this list of e-cigarette pros and cons hasn’t occurred yet, but it may very soon. Currently, the e-cigarette industry is one that enjoys very little regulation. You can buy e-cigarettes online, you can buy them in many different flavors and they aren’t subject to state tobacco taxes. All of this is likely to change, but it is unknown exactly how long the changes will take. In 2012, the FDA announced its intent to issue “deeming regulations” covering e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. If the sale of e-cigarettes is restricted in the same way as cigarettes, the industry may change in ways that e-smokers will find most unpleasant.