The Health Effects of E-Cigarettes

(Extract) Health risks associated with intended use of electronic cigarettes cannot be excluded at present. Generally, nicotine-containing liquids are potentially dangerous, because nicotine is toxic and addictive. However, not even nicotine-free liquids are necessarily harmless. Their main ingredients (propylene glycol, glycerine, flavours) have been approved for use in food, but this does not necessarily mean that they are also safe when they are repeatedly inhaled over a prolonged period of time – as they are when used in electronic cigarettes. There are currently no studies available on the effects of long-term use of e-cigarettes.


Electronic cigarettes are novel products emerging on the market just a couple of years ago.  Consequently, there are only few scientific studies on the health implications of using electronic cigarettes.  Based on current data, the following statements can be made:

  • Product characteristics
  • E-cigarettes cannot be rated as safe at the present time.
  • Consumers do not have reliable information on product quality.
  • Electronic cigarettes have various technical flaws (leaking cartridges, accidental intake of nicotine when replacing cartridges, possibility of unintended overdose).
  • Some manufacturers provide insufficient and partly wrong information about their liquids.
  • Health effects
  • The liquids contain ingredients that on short-term use irritate airways and may lead to allergic reactions and which may be harmful to health when inhaled repeatedly over a prolonged period of time.
  • The aerosol of some liquids contains harmful substances (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, diethylene glycol, nickel, chromium, lead).
  • The functionality of electronic cigarettes can vary considerably (aerosol production, nicotine delivery into aerosols).
  • Adverse health effects for third parties exposed cannot be excluded because the use of electronic cigarettes leads to emission of fine and ultra-fine inhalable liquid particles, nicotine and cancer-causing substances into indoor air”.

Link to study:  Electronic Cigarettes – An Overview

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