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Do E-cigarettes Produce Harmful Chemicals?

E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking cigarettes and all the evidence suggests that the health risks posed by e-cigarettes are relatively small by comparison1. However, because of their similarity in look to cigarettes and their association with smoking due to the clouds of vapour which are produced, their relative safety is misunderstood. Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not produce tar and carbon monoxide. The vapour in e-cigarettes has been found to contain some toxicants also found in cigarette smoke, but these are at much lower levels2.

To ensure your e-cigarette is least likely to result in health problems it’s important to use a good quality product. You should also ensure the e-liquid is not overheated, something which shouldn’t occur in a quality e-cigarette.

E-cigarettes provide an alternative method of consuming nicotine. Nicotine, although an addictive substance, doesn’t cause smoking-related diseases, such as cancers and heart disease. You can’t overdose on nicotine using e-cigarettes and are in no danger of poisoning yourself from inhaling the nicotine-containing fluid that an e-cigarette vaporises. 

The research shows that e-cigarette use represents only a fraction of the risk of smoking and when used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users. Whilst vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals present pose limited danger. The current best estimate is that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking3.

1 Public Health Commission: ‘E-cigarettes: a developing public health consensus’

2 NHS Guidance on e-cigarettes: 

3 Public Health Commission: ‘E-cigarettes: a new foundation for evidence-based policy and practice’ 

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