How To Rebut The Claim: eCigarettes Contain the Highly Dangerous Neurotoxin Nicotine and Release Toxic Chemicals In Its Vapor
By now you have probably heard about the California Department of Public Health’s report titled, “A Community Health Threat”, a report full of fear mongering claims and blatant lies due to the cherry-picked data cited in its pages. Continuing with our series of how you can defend your stance on vaping by keeping well informed, we will dissecting some misleading claims from the CDPH's report by Director of California Department of Health and State Health Officer, Ron Chapman, MD, MPH.
“eCigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive neurotoxin. eCigarettes do not emit water vapor, but a concoction of chemicals toxic to human cells in the form of an aerosol.”
The statement above is directly taken from Chapman’s report, but in truth nicotine is only dangerous if a person were to overdose on it or if it is ingested or applied to the skin. You should know that this fact is the same for many household products that you use daily. For these household products like bleach, toilet cleanser, etc responsible storage (keeping the items away from pets and children), along with childproof packaging is a step towards the right direction.
For the claim that eliquid is a “concoction” of toxic chemicals, the fact is we are comparing the emitted vapor to what is in cigarette smoke. In truth, if there is any risk at all it would likely be in the inhalation of propylene glycol, which is the common liquid used in eliquids, this goes the same as with the vegetable glycerin or glycerol. At the moment, there is not enough evidence on the long terms effects of the inhalation of these substances as not enough tests have been done as of yet.
In terms of limited exposure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has both propylene glycol and glycerin on their generally regarded as safe list and they have both been on this list for over 50 years. They are used in many products that you use every day like toothpaste, shampoo, medicine and even in some foods that you consume. Some may argue though that they are only approved for ingestion and not inhalation, but many asthma inhalers use propylene glycol and glycerol as a base to suspend the medicine the patient needs.
The vapor from ecigarettes may also contain nitrosamines, these are known carcinogens, but even these are present at the same levels which are comparable to medicinal products like the patch or nicotine gum. What Chapman’s report also failed to mention is that the nitrosamine content in ecigarettes is at concentrations of 500 to 1,400 times lower than in tobacco cigarettes. Lead, cadmium and nickel may also be present in electronic cigarette vapor, but in forms and in amounts that are considered nontoxic.
Why all of the stigma for nicotine? Caffeine is the most commonly used drug across the world. People all over easily go from morning coffees to their mid-morning pick-me-up latte, to their afternoon energy drink and after work Frappuccino, but you don’t see anyone readily claiming this habit has any ill-effects. Both caffeine and nicotine both raise the heart rate, they can cause a user nausea and can kill, but both only at extraordinarily high doses which in truth, are difficult to come by.
“Nicotine has similar qualities as caffeine,” quotes Ray Story, head of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. “The nicotine itself is not a deadly product…If this product is sold within the parameters of what we feel is a responsible product, this product is basically harmless.” In the end, nicotine is relatively safe for most healthy people and similar to caffeine should be avoided by those pregnant or nursing.