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If e-cigarettes are completely safe, why is the use of them mainly banned in public places such as pubs, restaurants, in-door shopping malls, and so on?

 

People who grew up in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, or earlier, will remember when tobacco smoking was permitted in restaurants, cinemas, trains, busses and other public places. The smell of cigarette smoke would cling to the clothing of both smokers and non-smokers and the risks of passive smoking would be readily accepted by anyone who left a smoky environment with a clogged-up throat and running eyes.

 

But e-cigarettes are safe, aren’t they? They either have no smell, or they smell of things such as vanilla or fruit. Where’s the harm in that?

 

The harm lies in what the vapour actually contains. It is now accepted as a fact that the vapour exhaled by e-cig smokers (the “second hand aerosols”, to use the technical expression) contains high levels of hazardous particulate matter, including metals such as nickel and chromium.

 

In an article for Science News (vol. 185, issue 13), Janet Raloff summarizes some recent scientific research into the safety of e cigarettes. E-cigarettes release high levels of nanoparticles into the body. Nanoparticles have been linked to heat disease, stroke, asthma and diabetes. E-cigarette vapours usually contain at least some of the solvents in which nicotine and flavourings are dissolved. E-cigarettes which deliver high levels of nicotine need to dissolve nicotine at a higher temperature. Higher temperatures cause a breakdown of solvents and produce carbonyls such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which cause, or are linked to, cancer.

 

Put more simply, recent research strongly suggests that although e-cigarettes pose less of a risk than tobacco cigarettes, there is still evidence of a cancer risk. “Passive smoking” of e-cig vapour is now perceived to be potentially harmful.

 

There are other reasons why e-cigarette use should be banned in public places. Use of e-cigarettes may encourage children and young people to regard smoking as safe and normal. E-cigarette use might encourage someone who has recently quit smoking to relapse. (“Vaping isn’t smoking, is it?”). Although the smell of e-cigarettes doesn’t compare to the pong of tobacco cigarettes, some e-cigs do smell very strong. You wouldn’t necessarily want to inhale some perfumed cocktail of vapour if you’re trying to eat.

 

Finally, we should remember that e-cigarettes were only invented in 2003 (in China) and were only introduced into Europe in 2005. Widespread use of e-cigarettes is only about a decade old. The real long-term effects have not had time to emerge.

 

Vaping isn’t safe. Decide to quit today – and then contact me.

 

 

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