Electronic Cigarettes and Health: What Science Says

Electronic Cigarettes and Health: What Science Says

Published on: 05/07/2024

In recent years, this device has been the subject of numerous debates among both consumers and researchers: what does science say about it?

Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid to create a vapor that the user inhales. This liquid contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavors, and can be with or without nicotine. The main characteristic that distinguishes electronic cigarettes from traditional cigarettes is the absence of combustion.

While tobacco smoke is produced by burning the tobacco itself, the vapor from e-cigarettes is derived from heating the liquid, thus avoiding the production of many harmful chemical compounds present in tobacco smoke.

The Beginnings of Research on Electronic Cigarettes

Scientific research on electronic cigarettes began only recently, compared to decades of studies on tobacco smoking. The first studies focused mainly on the chemical composition of aerosols emitted by electronic cigarettes and the immediate effects on the human body. Researchers found that although the vapor from electronic cigarettes contains fewer toxic chemicals than tobacco smoke, it is not completely risk-free.

One of the most studied aspects is the presence of liquid nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and although it is not directly responsible for smoking-related diseases, it contributes to addiction and can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. Additionally, exposure to nicotine during adolescence can affect brain development.

Read also: Tingling throat after vaping? Here’s why it happens and how to avoid it.

The Beginnings of Research on Electronic Cigarettes

Short-Term Effects on the Body

Short-term studies on the effects of electronic cigarettes have provided conflicting results. Some research suggests that their use can cause respiratory tract irritation and increase the risk of lung infections. Other studies have found that, compared to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes significantly reduce levels of carcinogenic compounds in the body.

A particularly worrying aspect is the use of electronic cigarettes by young people. Studies have shown a significant increase in the use of e-cigarettes among adolescents, often attracted by appealing flavors and the perception that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. However, the use of nicotine in this age group can lead to addiction and potentially facilitate the transition to tobacco smoking.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of using electronic cigarettes are still under study, mainly because these devices are relatively new and there is not enough long-term data available. However, early evidence indicates that prolonged use of e-cigarettes could pose health risks.

Some studies have highlighted that regular use of electronic cigarettes can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Other studies have raised concerns about the potential carcinogenic effects of the chemicals present in e-cigarette liquids. In particular, some flavors can decompose at high temperatures, producing harmful compounds such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Comparison with Traditional Cigarettes

One of the main arguments in favor of electronic cigarettes is that they represent a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes. Numerous studies have confirmed that e-cigarettes contain significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals compared to tobacco cigarettes. However, the absence of many carcinogenic compounds does not mean they are completely risk-free.

Another study concluded that e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than traditional cigarette smoke. This study supported the idea that electronic cigarettes can be used as a tool to help smokers quit smoking, reducing the harms associated with tobacco smoke. However, this position has been criticized by some experts who argue that there is still not enough evidence to support such claims.

The Use of Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool

Those who decide to approach electronic cigarettes for the first time often do so to quit smoking. Several studies have examined the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in this context, with varying results. Some research suggests that electronic cigarettes can be effective in reducing the number of cigarettes smoked and helping smokers quit completely. However, other studies have highlighted that many e-cigarette users continue to use both electronic and traditional cigarettes, thus reducing the potential benefits.

Another study showed that smokers who use electronic cigarettes are significantly more likely to quit smoking compared to those who use other cessation methods, such as nicotine patches or chewing gum.

The Use of Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool

Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes

The regulation of electronic cigarettes varies greatly from country to country. In some countries, e-cigarettes are strictly regulated and subject to restrictions similar to those of traditional cigarettes. In other countries, regulation is less stringent, and e-cigarettes are easily accessible, even to young people.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating electronic cigarettes as tobacco products in 2016. This means that manufacturers must provide evidence of safety and efficacy to sell their products. However, regulation is still evolving, and there have been several controversies regarding the marketing of e-cigarettes, particularly concerning e cig flavours that attract young people.

In Europe, the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has established specific rules for electronic cigarettes, including limits on nicotine concentration and labeling requirements. These regulations aim to ensure that products are safe for consumers and to prevent use by minors.

Public Health Concerns

Electronic cigarettes raise several public health concerns. One of the most worrying aspects is the increase in use among young people. Studies have shown that young people who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes. This phenomenon, known as the “gateway effect,” has been the subject of intense debates among researchers.

Moreover, there are concerns about the quality and safety of products available on the market. Some studies have found that e-liquids can contain harmful contaminants and that the devices themselves can malfunction, posing safety risks. For example, there have been cases of e-cigarette battery explosions, causing severe injuries to users.

Read also: Compact electronic cigarette: 3 tips for choosing the right one


Scientific research has made significant progress in understanding the effects of e-cigs, but many questions remain unanswered. It is clear that while e-cigarettes may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, they are not risk-free.

For smokers looking to quit, electronic cigarettes can represent a viable alternative, but it is important to use these devices with awareness and under the guidance of health professionals. At the same time, it is essential to continue monitoring the use of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people, and to promote regulations that ensure the safety of products available on the market.

Science will continue to evolve, and with it, our understanding of the effects of electronic cigarettes on health.

In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing electronic cigarettes, visit our site Terpy and buy your favorites — we have a flavor for everyone!