Are e-cigarettes safer and better than real cigarettes?

Pathos and Pathology

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 8.51.49 PM

First, as a disclaimer, I would like to state that ANY kind of smoke inhalation is damaging to the lungs because of direct irritation from the smoke. E-cigarettes are also problematic in that they contain nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, and there are concerns that never-smokers are using them under the assumption that they are “safe” and being exposed to toxins in e-cigarettes.

So, what are the contents of an e-cigarette?

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.03.46 PM First row: the e-cigarette. Second row: cartridge. Contains the e-liquid, which is the stuff that gets inhaled. It usually contains nicotine and propylene glycol, but notably, can be sold with or without different ingredients. Third row: atomizer. Heats the liquid solution to create the vapor. Fourth row: lithium battery.

There is a large market in the US ($2 billion/year industry). Between 20-50% of current smokers report having tried e-cigarettes at some point–that’s 6% of the total US population.

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