Are Electronic Cigarettes Really Better Than Regular Ones?

Health / Life

Man smoking cigarette / Photo by Getty Images


In the United States, more than 480,000 people die each year because of smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 41,000 of these are because of secondhand smoke exposure. It is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country.

There are more than 7,000 harmful chemicals and compounds in tobacco smoke. The problem is that even when smokers try to quit, they can experience withdrawals when they try to quit immediately.

This is because nicotine is a recreational drug that causes long-term brain changes through continued exposure, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


The hazards of electronic cigarettes

This nicotine withdrawal is marked by symptoms like irritability, sleeping problems, increased appetite, and attention problems. They are also hit with overwhelming cravings for tobacco. This is why people would try several things to ease into completely quitting smoking. One of these is through the use of electronic cigarettes.

However, this doesn’t mean that electronic cigarettes aren’t dangerous. According to the NIDA, while electronic cigarettes are viewed as less harmful than regular cigarettes, nicotine in any form is a highly addictive drug to the point that it can become like a gateway drug.

For teens especially, NIDA reported that nicotine affects the development of the reward system in the brain. This can lead to the use of other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

Nicotine also plays a role in the development of the brain circuits that affect attention and learning, leading to mood disorders or impulse control problems.


Different colors of electronic cigarettes / Photo by Pixabay


Is the secondhand smoke of electronic cigarettes safe?

Electronic cigarette smokers may think that they are not doing any harm by smoking in front of non-smokers, thinking that there’s no such thing as secondhand smoke for electronic cigarettes.

This can’t be more untrue. According to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, electronic cigarettes worsened the indoor air quality by increasing the concentration of nicotine, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and aluminum.

These compounds have been linked by previous studies to conditions like lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.


Man blowing smoke in front of a non-smoker female / Photo by Getty Images


What’s in the electronic cigarette liquid?

In a 2013 study published in the journal Tobacco Control, the researchers conducted a controlled experiment wherein they generated vapors from 12 different brands of electronic cigarettes. They found that the vapors contained toxic substances that are 9 to 450 times lower than that usually found in cigarette smoke.

However, these include toxic substances like the carcinogen formaldehyde, nitrosamines, and the neurotoxin lead. As a matter of fact, the formaldehyde levels in electronic cigarettes are reportedly comparable to or even higher than those found in regular cigarettes.

It’s also possible to overdose on nicotine if you happen to swallow the electronic cigarette liquid. Though it is uncommon, it can result in symptoms like breathing difficulties, vomiting, fainting, headache, weakness, and heart rate changes.


Different flavors of electronic cigarette liquid / Photo by


Electronic Cigarette Lil: Can e-cigarettes help smokers quit?

One of the hardest things to get used to for people who are switching from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes is that they are much heavier than the cigarettes they’re used to. This can be particularly bad for people who are using electronic cigarettes in the process of quitting smoking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), electronic cigarettes have the potential to benefit non-pregnant adult smokers who are looking for a complete substitute for cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.

However, it also reported that many electronic cigarette smokers who are trying to quit smoking are instead falling into “dual use” wherein they use electronic cigarettes while also continuing to smoke regular cigarettes and other tobacco products.

According to a 2016 Cochrane review, there are two studies with randomized controlled trials that found that electronic cigarettes with nicotine can actually help smokers quit smoking in the long term compared to those who smoked non-nicotine electronic cigarettes. It’s important to note, Cochrane reported, that these studies are quite limited due to the small number of trials, small sample sizes, and wide margins of error.

That said, there are now electronic cigarette models that mimic the appearance and feel of regular cigarettes. Electronic cigarette brands like Lil, NJOY, and Bull Smoke uses an electronic cigarette that actually looks like regular cigarettes.


Man blowing smoke through his nose using electronic cigarette / Photo by Getty Images


Ranking electronic cigarettes

There are so many different kinds of electronic cigarettes. These would all have a different kind of feel and appearance, however, which would be either good or bad for an individual according to that person’s preferences.

There are also varieties that have no nicotine whatsoever so that may be better if you’re trying to stay away from nicotine. However, varieties with nicotine may be better if you’re still in the process of quitting smoking to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.


Different brands and sizes of electronic cigarettes / Photo by Wikimedia Commons


The price of electronic cigarettes

Just as much variety as there are in electronic cigarettes, there is also just as much variety in the price of electronic cigarettes.

You can expect to find electronic cigarettes for around $9 to as much as $30. Of course, you’d also have to purchase the electronic cigarette liquid when you run out of them.

They can be quite pricey so it’s really best if you’d read reviews online to figure out what kind would suit you better if you choose to buy electronic cigarettes.


A vape and a refill liquid / Photo by Getty Images