What is an electronic cigarette?
In simple terms an electronic cigarettes consists of water which is flavoured with nicotine and either traditional tobacco or fruit flavours. The devices are very simple, the liquid is held in a capsule which is heated and converted to a vapour. The vapour is inhaled by the user and exhaled with the vast majority of this simply water.
As we touched on above, there is an array of different types of devices and products available today but in simple terms an electronic cigarette allows you to "smoke" flavoured water.
What are the long-term health implications?
Before we look at the health implications it is worth considering that the traditional tobacco cigarette is thought to consist of 4000+ potential toxins. Many of these ingredients have yet to be identified and while nobody can say with any great certainty what the long-term health implications are for tobacco use, they are blamed by many doctors and governments for millions of deaths a year.
The situation with regards to electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices is slightly different in that they only consist of a handful of ingredients. The liquid nicotine is the main ingredient along with flavourings which have been added to many products of late. There is some debate about the long-term health implications of nicotine use, seen by some as very addictive while others compare it with caffeine, but so far the medical trials associated with electronic cigarettes have not unearthed any long-term health implications at this moment in time.
More research data is required
If you read the mass media you would be forgiven for believing that many electronic cigarette companies are against long-term medical trials. The truth is that all parties involved in the electronic cigarette industry fully acknowledge the need for further long-term trials to clarify once and for all any potential health implications. The fact that all of the ingredients in a modern-day electronic cigarette are already in the human food chain would suggest there are limited potential health implications but this does need to be confirmed.
It is also worth noting that various regulators across the world are now looking at the electronic cigarette industry and bringing in safeguards to protect the health of the general public. These regulatory issues have been ongoing for some time now. Many people blame the fact that governments and regulators initially ignored the industry as something of a "niche market" prior to the sector going mass market.
While the early indications seem to suggest that electronic cigarettes are at worst less harmful than their tobacco counterparts, with some doctors suggesting they are up to 90% less harmful, all parties involved fully recognise the need for further long-term medical trials. The trial data so far has been very positive for the industry and slowly but surely a number of myths and uncertainties have been addressed. We await further data in due course but so far there has been nothing of real concern to report.