Traditional cigarettes contain some chemicals which are classified as poison. E-cigarettes use approximately four to five, most of which, individually, are FDA approved.
It’s no secret that smoking causes health problems. Heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, COPD and emphysema are all complications linked to the smoking of tobacco products. Even worse, cigarettes are highly addictive, so users often find it hard to quit in order to preserve their health, or to help them reverse existing smoking related health problems.
Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or e-cigs, offer smokers a new alternative. Because they use vapor to mimic the act of smoking, they may provide a safer way to enjoy cigarettes.
While some may question the validity of claims that e-cigs are healthier, one look at the ingredients in both e-cigs and conventional cigarettes will make it clear which is the better choice.
Ingredients Found in Conventional Cigarettes:
Tobacco products are full of chemicals and additives, both in the tobacco and in the paper that tobacco companies use. These chemicals are combined with those produced during combustion, which is required in order to burn the tobacco and papers.
While it would be impossible to list every chemical and ingredient used in cigarettes, as there are thousands of them (over 500 alone added by the tobacco companies themselves as ingredients), a few of the more common, and worrisome, ingredients found in cigarettes include:
Tobacco: This one is obvious, but cigarettes contain tobacco. Grown as a crop both domestically and in many other regions, it is used both in smokeless and smoked products. Tobacco adds flavor and is famous for its trademark taste. Tobacco also naturally contains nicotine, which is the stimulant which makes cigarettes so addictive.
Formaldehyde: This is also the chemical used to preserve dead bodies. According to the American Cancer Society, it may increase the risk of several cancers.
Arsenic: This is the primary ingredient in many rat poisons.
Lead: Most people know that high levels of lead are dangerous. NBC News reports that studies have shown that even small doses of lead are linked to heart attack and stroke.
Cyanide: This chemical works quickly and can be fatal. It is found in very small quantities in some foods, and is a chemical which is released during combustion. It has also been found as an addictive in cigarettes. Cyanide is poisonous, and is most dangerous when inhaled, according to the CDC.
Carbon Monoxide: This is a poisonous gas which can cause death when inhaled in large enough quantities, and illness when inhaled in smaller amounts. It is given off as a byproduct of burning tobacco products.
A lot of the e-cig brands are making the fact that their products do not contain carbon monoxide their unique selling point. Vapor cigarette brands like Mig Vapor are actually including word “vapor” in their name to highlight this fact.
Methoprene and DDT: Both are insecticides, the latter of which has been banned due to safety issues.
These are just a few of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Each of these chemicals are inhaled into the smoker’s lungs with every puff.
Ingredients in E-Cigarettes
E-cigs only contain approximately four ingredients in most cases. While the heating of these ingredients may lead to the formation of other compounds, very few chemicals have been found in e-cig vapor when compared to secondhand smoke from cigarettes.
The ingredients mostly commonly used in e-cigs include:
Vegetable Glycerin: This is the ingredient used to produce vapor.
Propylene Glycol: This additive gives e-cigs much of their “throat hit,” and it is generally recognized as safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
Nicotine: Found naturally in tobacco leaves, nicotine is also added to most e-liquids. This allows smokers to still get their nicotine fix without having to inhale the smoke found in tobacco products. Nicotine is a stimulant, much like caffeine. Contrary to what many assume, nicotine is not a known carcinogen.
Flavoring: Most e-cig flavorings are derived from food sources. Malic acid, for instance, is what gives apples and some other fruits their tart flavor. Vanillin is also commonly used in sweeter e-liquids. Many flavorings have been approved as safe for consumption by the FDA.
Distilled Water: A sometimes fifth, but less common, ingredient found in some e-cigs is distilled water. This helps dilute some e-liquids and prevents buildup in atomizers. Its use is most common in liquids which only use vegetable glycerin without propylene glycol, as glycerin alone can lead to buildup.
The Bottom Line
Tobacco products have been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease and stroke. This is due in large part to the hundreds of chemicals produced by the combustion of burning tobacco, as well as the dangerous cancer causing additives used by tobacco companies to enhance flavor and preserve taste. E-cigarettes, by comparison, do not produce smoke and contain only four or five simple ingredients in their e-liquids.