4 Important Facts about E-Cigs

Electronic cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to the common cigarette, but how safe are they really?

According to Dr. Mia Finkelston, who treats patients using LiveHealth Online, e-cigarettes are dangerous and, worse, they are being sold in ways designed to appeal to youth—they are electronic, they come in sweet flavors, and they don’t leave the “smoker” smelling like tobacco.

Recent studies indicated that the number of teens and tweens using these products has more than doubled since 2013. “We’re seeing a spike in usage in the Maryland community,” she said. “And it concerns me. It’s important both parents and young people know the facts.”

Here are some important e cigarette health risks to keep in mind:

  1. E-cigarettes may be smoke-free but they are not nicotine- free.  E-cigarettes are still a nicotine product with dangerous chemical additives that you don’t want in your body. The amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette ranges from product to product. Some vials may contain as much as typical tobacco cigarettes, while others contain amounts similar to light cigarettes. Pregnant women, in particular, should avoid using e-cigarettes, as it is well understood that nicotine negatively affects fetal development.
  2. E-cigarette emissions often contain high concentrations of formaldehyde, an extremely toxic and carcinogenic substance that is used in embalming fluids. Many of the e-cigarette fluid cartridges also contain diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in anti-freeze.
  3. No state or federal agency yet regulates the manufacturing of e-cigarettes, so you don’t really know what you are ingesting. Many e-cigarettes, in fact, come from China where the manufacturing oversight and safety considerations are limited.
  4. Liquid nicotine can be especially harmful if it is ingested or absorbed through skin. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include abdominal cramps, muscular twitching, rapid breathing, vomiting, fainting, weakness, convulsions, and high blood pressure and heart rate. Call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 if you believe you or anyone around you is suffering from nicotine poisoning. Ingesting e-vial liquid can be life threatening to a child.
Photo of Mia Finkelston
Mia Finkelston
Family Physician
20 years of experience
MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine

Visit with Mia Finkelston and other board-certified doctors using LiveHealth Online

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Using LiveHealth Online you can select the doctor who can assess your condition and provide a prescription if needed. Learn more

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