Electronic cigarettes - billed as a healthier alternative to smoking - may be even more damaging than the habit they replace, experts have warned. The battery-powered devices contain a heating element that turns nicotine-laced liquid in a cartridge into a vapour mist that is inhaled.
This produces a sensation similar to smoking the real thing but, manufacturers claim, without the carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarette tar, the Daily Mail reported.
Experts say in order to vaporise the nicotine solution, the chemical propylene glycol is put into the cartridges, and accounts for up to 90 per cent of their content. This can cause “acute respiratory system irritation”, claims Dr Elisabeth Pott, director of the Federal Centre of Health Education in Cologne, Germany, who studied the e-cigarettes.
The US Food and Drug Administration, in 2009, analysed e-cigarette cartridges and found traces of the carcinogen nitrosamine and other potentially harmful substances in products from several manufacturers, in addition to ethanol and glycerin. However, e-cigarette firms point out that nitrosamine is found in much higher concentration in cigarettes, report said.
Professor John Britton from the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group, is calling for regulation of e-cigarettes that would ensure a “guaranteed standard”.
Britton said the devices should be regulated in the UK to a degree to make sure there are reasonable levels of nicotine in them. According to the report, e-cigarettes have been banned in Canada, Australia, and some American states.