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“E-cigarettes are usually made of metal parts combined with plastic or glass and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They heat the liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that quickly dissipates when exhaled. The vapor looks like tobacco smoke and can feel like tobacco smoke when taken into the lungs at varying strengths, from no nicotine up to 24 milligrams or more.”  This description of e-cigarettes illustrates the difference between e-cigs and traditional tobacco products. It also shows that nicotine can be present in the electronic cigarette product, something that e-cig manufacturers and their supporters downplay.

As I reported in an earlier article, e-cigarettes are rapidly gaining popularity among individuals of all ages.   And in reaction to this growing trend, some large cities are creating regulations to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces. This month the city of Los Angeles joined Boston, Chicago and New York City in regulating the use of e-cigarettes.  The e-cigarette industry is, consequently, getting ticked off.

Blu E-Cigarettes President, Jason Healy, recent went on Bloomberg TV to throw his weight behind the e-cig industry stance.  Healy suggests that the ban on e-cigs will diminish its effectiveness in helping people to stop smoking traditional cigarettes. He went on to say that e-cigs are helping to save lives by giving people a way to stop smoking cigarettes. He claims that e-cigarettes are more effective than banning tobacco products and that by enacting legislation against e-cigarettes cities are doing more harm than good. Healy suggested that the bans are partially a result of lobbying efforts from big pharmaceutical companies, who stand to lose profits.

The FDA is working on proposals for the regulation of electronic cigarettes.  Its website states: “E-cigarettes have not been fully studied so consumers currently don’t know:

  • the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended,
  • how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or
  • if there are any benefits associated with using these products.

Additionally, it is not known if e-cigarettes may lead young people to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death.”   (

Given the scarcity of data at this time, the FDA’s caution seems appropriate, as does the various safety controls being enacted by major cities across the US.  It seems reasonable at this stage of the debate to consider the possible dangers of inhaling the chemically-loaded vapors and the potential of introducing children to a concept that might lead them to traditional cigarettes. For obvious reasons, it would be quite irresponsible to simply agree with the e-cigarette industry in the absence of long-term testing and studies.  This is a debate that will be closely followed. It is sadly reminiscent of the early days of tobacco regulation where the companies that profited fiercely battled those entrusted with our public health and safety.


  1. Gravatar for Julian

    I switched from smoking to e-cigs to avoid the 4000+ deadly carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco cigs. My chronic cough stopped. Electronic cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigs--there's no carbon monoxide, fire, tar, smoke. Nicotine in the flavored e-liquid consists of the same nicotine in the nicotine gum paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. The food grade flavorings with a base of propylene glycol which is rated GRAS, (generally regarded as safe), and used in products like toothpaste and the anti-smoking drug ZYBAN. In e-cigs, the flavoring is heated into a vapor that's inhaled and exhaled. The American made e-liquid I buy is sold at, and if you visit there you can read the ingredients.

  2. Gravatar for Jon

    Blu e-cigarettes is in fact owned by cigarette company Lorillard. Just as MarkTen is owned by cigarette giant Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes. And Vuse is R. J. Reynolds, maker of Camel, and famous for its cartoon character Joe Camel that pushes smoking.

    So when you hear Blu pretend it's against e-cig restrictions because it wants people to stop smoking, that's, how do I put this politely, on a par with 50 years of tobacco industry lies.

    Lorillard's incentive is to sell more Newports. That's why it's fighting communities that are including e-cigs in their smokefree policies; it knows that it will sell more cigarettes if e-cigs are used everywhere.

    Why? Because e-cigs are great way to keep smokers smoking. Surprising perhaps, but true, and the research backs this up: e-cig use REDUCES quitting:

    The tobacco industry is not in this business for your health.

  3. Gravatar for R.S.

    Because most of these things contain nicotine, and the companies that make them are owned by Big Tobacco, we must assume that they are at least as dangerous until cigarettes untill proven otherwise. Case closed.

  4. Gravatar for Glenda

    I am so sick to death of this debate. Why can't everyone just mind their own business? The holier-than-thou's have already made it law that smokers can't smoke in bars or restaurants anymore, now some city parks, 15-30 feet away from a door way, it's just getting ridiculous. How about if we also make laws so people can't wear perfume or cologne? THAT makes ME ill when another practically bathes in the stuff. When will this end? e-cigs ARE safer to use and should NOT be banned in public places.,

    1. Gravatar for Greg Webb


      Thank you for reading the blog and commenting. I have to disagree with your "holier-than-thou" comment, however. Comparing cigarette smoke, even e-cigarette smoke, to perfume is not quite the same. You are comparing apples to donkeys in my opinion. Cigarette smoke, and nicotine in particular, is known to be harmful. As well as a host of other chemicals in e-cigarettes, not to mention those in tobacco products. There are no known harmful side-effects of breathing perfume or other fragrances second-hand. Perhaps you do not like the smells, and perhaps even the hydrocarbons cause you to develop headaches (although the science there is questionable), but those are not long-term, harmful side-effects.


  5. Gravatar for Mike Phelan

    Good article Greg. The liquid nicotine is also highly toxic. See

  6. Gravatar for Shafer

    Greg - nicotine is no more dangerous than caffeine and exhaled ecig vapor (not smoke) is probably a lot safer than breathing in an excess of perfume.

    I think you should do a little more research before writing any more on this subject.

    1. Gravatar for Greg Webb


      If only I were as learned as you! You see, I based my conclusions about nicotine - in part - on all of that science developed over the years (and hidden, by the way) by Big Tobacco - you know, companies like RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris (Altria), Lorillard, Brown & Williamson etc. - where the research showed inhaled nicotine goes directly into the lungs, then into the heart, where it is then pumped into the brain; and, because it is HIGHLY addictive, the body will crave that nicotine; and then more and more is inhaled. And guess what? Nicotine is a cancer-promoting agent, along with being associated with birth-defects and developmental disorders. So, I guess all in all Shafer, nicotine is not as harmful as, say, Chanel No. 5. But do not take my word for it Shafer, go do YOUR OWN real research, and do not rely on the garbage spewed by the E-cig industry. You might also find that studies actually show that e-cigs do not really help in smoking cessation - most smokers using e-cigs either become addicted to "vaping" or revert back to the real deal - tobacco cigarettes.

      And, lastly, I forgot to say that I represented a tobacco whistleblower a few years back, who happened to be the chief of research and development for a large tobacco company in the 1960's, '70's and '80's. He was a toxicologist. Surprisingly, he felt a little differently about nicotine than you.


  7. Gravatar for Craig

    So this isn't really a forum to freely leave comments, it's an opportunity for you, Greg, to attack anyone who doesn't agree with your opinions. OK, I'm game.

    Well, as you mention to Shafer - "do your OWN RESEARCH..." - I do. Every day. I'm a vaper, and have been for that past 8 months straight, after giving up tobacco on Aug 11, 2013. So unless you are an e-cig *user*, Greg, you are just regurgitating what you have chosen to read, you have no *subjective* information to pass along. Well, here it is.

    After 26 years of tobacco, I quit on Aug 11, 2013 - my first e-cig was my last tobacco cig, and I have never looked back or desired to. Within a couple weeks, I could breathe again, taste again and smell again. (And I save a *ton* of money each month!) I have yet to experience *any* side-effects, and have more energy than I've had in years.

    I noticed that while you hammer Big Tobacco on nicotine and how horribly dangerous and toxic it is, you fail to mention Big Pharma's use of *the same nicotine* in their products - for smoking cessation. So... patches, gums and lozenges using nicotine = good, but e-cigs using that *same* nicotine = bad? That's a double-standard my friend - you can't have it both ways. A primary use of pure, liquid nicotine, is, in fact, for use in smoking cessation products - whether it's used in oral (lozenges, gums), dermal (patches) or inhaled (e-cigs) form. Big Pharma's ticked because e-cigs are cutting into their profits - pure and simple. Someone (a single person, a Chinese pharmacist) managed to invent a product that addresses the whole addiction, while all the resources of Pharma could only come up with a *patch*. Yeah, that works.

    Now, as far as nicotine addiction goes, and this shows your lack of subjective knowledge, Greg, I vape constantly through the day when I'm at home - yup, morning 'til night, and you know what? I am LESS addicted to nicotine than I was smoking a pack of cigs a day! How to I know. Easy (and this goes for others finding this interesting effect). When I *can't* vape, I'm not "driven" to run out and have an e-cig like I was with cigs! As a smoker, I could manage, at most, an hour, hour-and-a-half, AT MOST before I was so crazed that I HAD to have a smoke (and nobody had better get in my way!). Vaping, however? There is no "drive" to go have a vape. I can comfortably go 2, 3, 4 - and yesterday it was even 5 - hours without a vape. And even then, I was not *crazed* to go have one. I was perfectly comfortable with it. It is quite amazing how LITTLE I feel the need to go get some nicotine now. So your assertion that vapers will vape more nicotine and thus become MORE addicted to nicotine is rubbish - pure objective opinion. A prominent opinion is floating around that it's not *just* the nicotine that causes the addiction, but all the additives included in tobacco products that *enhance* the effects of the nicotine that is the real culprit here, making the nic more addictive than it is in its pure, natural state. Take all that away, and I can go hours and hours without needing nicotine with e-cigs vs. going no more than an hour with tobacco. What does that tell you?

    Now, as for nicotine toxicity... Really? In humans this is accepted as being 30-60 mg for a roughly 150lb man. (And according to a CDC report, this is over a 30 minute period.) So, even though I vape 1.2% liquid, we'll push it to the higher 2.4% for argument. Vaping 10ml (or mg) of liquid a day (double what I actually do) @ 2.4% gives me... wait for it... .24mg of nicotine over a 24-hour period, which breaks down to... wait for it... .01mg per hour, or .005mg per 30 minutes, vs. the lethal dosage of 30-60mg per 30 minutes. Kinda puts a kink in the whole "how toxic nicotine is" argument, doesn't it? And again, FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE, not referencing obscure articles on the web. I would just about have to drink the whole bottle of pure nicotine solution to kill myself with nicotine. And of course small children are harming themselves with e-cig components - because neglectful parents aren't keeping them out of reach or locked up like they're supposed to! Any legit e-cig vendor clearly labels their products "keep out of reach of children"! Not the kids' fault. Not the e-cig's fault. Kids also get into household cleaners (which accounts for the vast majority of calls to Poison Control Center calls relating to child poisonings), but we're not banning Drano, are we?

    Now, for those of you touting "FDA approval" or "more studies need to be done" - "more information". Consider that e-cigs hit the US market hard in 2009, that's coming up on 5 years ago. That's 5 years of studies and research that *could* have been going on, but instead, people spend their time complaining about the lack of research, instead of actually DOING the research! We would have information by now if people actually decided to be proactive and constructive instead of just ranting. FDA approval? Seriously? How many FDA drugs are eventually tied to cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc.? My "better half", even now, is awaiting blood test results because she's been taking a drug *approved by the FDA in 2005* that is now being linked to pancreatic cancer. I give no extra weight to *anything* "FDA approved" - which people push for when they talk of Big Pharma's products (again, any reference to Big Pharma was, interestingly enough, void from your article, Greg - and they are *big* players in this e-cig game).

    Now, for me to give your article, Greg, any weight at all, I'd love to see some source references. What articles did this information come from? How bias or objective was it? Makes a big difference. Sources funded by Big Pharma or e-cig naysayers are obviously going to hammer the e-cig industry and Big Tobacco. To me, it simply appears that you set out to write a skewed article slamming e-cigs (without *any* subjective information) and you pulled any reference you could find that did that, and you wrote. And that's fine, if you choose to write a non-objective, opinionated article, but to start slamming everyone here for leaving comments who don't agree with you, and being nasty about it... Well, that just shows the true face of your "journalism"...

    1. Gravatar for Greg Webb


      Thank you for reading and responding. I would not categorize my reply to Shafer as an attack, but merely a defense to his allegation that I should do more research before writing on a topic. Perhaps it was a bit spirited, but yesterday was a long day. I would apply the same rationale to your "analysis" above, which, as you correctly pointed out, is based upon subjective observations taken over 8 months, by you. Subjective information is, when considering data or evidence on a continuum, rather low on that reliability scale. Researchers prefer objective data, not opinions or beliefs (or subjective observations based upon anecdotes). The fact that you could wait up to a whole 5 hours before you had to vape again I think pretty much proves my point - you had an urge to vape, and the longest you can go is 5 hours, with it usually being half that time.

      Regarding the toxicity of nicotine, I am not certain I follow you. You seem to draw the conclusion that, because you can ingest or inhale it, and it does not kill you immediately (like Drano?), then it is not toxic. I do not follow that logic. It is the cumulative effect of the consumption (just like tobacco cigarettes) that is harmful, promoting cancerous growths, birth defects, etc. If you drink a bottle of Drano, I think that may kill you. And the reason we do not ban Drano is that it is not designed, marketed or sold for human consumption, like E-cigarettes (which are being marketed to children in some instances).

      Regarding research of E-cigs, that is in fact occurring. Five years is likely not long enough to evaluate the harm of E-cigarettes, much like evaluating cigarette smoking over a 5 year period would not lead to any effective or useful epidemiological analysis.

      The reason I did not discuss the pharmaceutical industry is because I was talking about smoking and e-cigarettes in particular. Big Pharma is a whole other can of worms. I tend to actually agree with you there.

      All in all, if given the choice between tobacco cigarettes and an E-cig, it is a choice of the lesser of 2 evils, and I would likely prefer my loved one to use an E-cig, given my current knowledge. I would hope, however, that she would not use either because the jury is still out on how harmful E-cigs are. Moreover, they still promote the habit of smoking.

      Again, thank you for responding.


  8. Gravatar for Craig


    And thank *you* for responding to my response. I would like to respond to your counter-points at this time. Initially, however, I find it pleasing that we are able to concur on, at least, a couple of points:

    - Big Pharma is a can of worms, but is seriously considered a large source of negative propaganda against e-cigs. They have the resources and "push" to get that misinformation in front of peoples' eyes faster and in larger quantities than the ecig industry can.

    - I, too, would prefer my loved ones not to use anything at all (after all, we're designed to breathe air, not smoke or vapor).

    On to the counter-counter points:

    While I completely concur that pure research *needs* to be objective, smoking & vaping happen to *people* - is experienced by *people* - who are affected by it. Churning out statistics and numbers without checking to see if the results are mimicked by actual users is missing a large chunk of the equation. At the very least, a subjective observation or claim can/should be the starting point of research. This is why I offered by anecdote - it flies in the face what is commonly stated (and you touched on above) - that switching from cigs to vaping will just get people addicted to vaping (I would have to question whether it would be more accurate to replace "cigs" and "vaping" here with "nicotine"?). I would also consider this could be a possibility. However, I am *experiencing* quite the opposite effect - a *lesser* degree of reliance on vaping/nicotine, even though I chain-vape when able to. (You misinterpreted the point of my "2, 3, 4 - 5 hour" anecdote above. I was not "driven" in the end to go vape after 5 hours, I noticed my ecig case on my desk while working, and it dawned on me that it had been awhile since I had gone out to vape - checking the clock to see what time it was, and discovering it had been 5 hours. I had also done this at the 3-hour mark, but something came up that distracted me, and I forgot all about it until I noticed the case again - something that would *never* have happened with tobacco. I would have been shaking and "crazed" after only an hour. It could then be a debate as to whether, at that time, I "had" to go down to vape or not, but I'm not going there at this time.) My experience also goes against what I would have *expected* to happen - that I would become *more* addicted to vaping/nicotine. Curious, I would love to see some objective research done on this paradoxical effect. (There is actually research out there suggesting that the PG/VG vapor delivery system of ecigs is horribly inefficient, and that only a fraction of the nicotine in the fluid is reaching the bloodstream, and taking a much longer time to get there, than with tobacco. So, presumably, even though I can calculate how much nic I'm consuming based on the strength of the fluid I'm using, only a small portion is actually reaching my brain. This would account for, and support, my *subjective* observation - if that research is confirmed.)

    Next point, above, you mention "(which are being marketed to children in some instances)". I see/hear this all the time. Where? I would like to see this marketing because I have yet to. Fruity flavors does not equal "marketing to children". Of the 40+ flavors of juice I use, over 60% are fruit flavors - and 15% are sweet drink flavored (cola, cherry cola, lemon/lime, etc.). Adults can certainly enjoy these flavors as much as kids can. Alcohol certainly offers fruit flavors, and nowadays you can have your prescription meds (liquids) flavored with fruit flavors. I contest that "fruit = marketing to kids". Also, any legitimate vendor makes it a *point* of stating that these products are not for kids or teens ("keep out of reach of children", "will not sell to anyone under legal smoking age/or 18 years old", etc.). Contrary to popular (misguided) belief, the target demographic is adult smokers - getting a handle on those 500K adult smokers who die each year from tobacco.

    The point of my nicotine toxicity "rant" was two-fold:

    1) to show (with numbers) that the levels of nicotine consumed through proper usage of ecigs falls far below (by orders of magnitude) the stated level of toxicity (lethal dosage) of nicotine. Its was touched on several times above how "toxic" nicotine is (and, granted, I'm assuming everyone is referring to "lethality" here), but as a common expression in medical field asserts - "the does makes the poison". In *small, controlled amounts*, nicotine is harmless. In large amounts, yes, it's lethal. Heck, in large enough amounts, even *water* can be lethal.

    2) The second part, was addressing the stories that continually arise referring "children becoming horribly sick because of ecigs" - an extension of the "nicotine toxicity" conversation. The comparison was not to nicotine vs. Drano as it pertains to the toxicity of each, but rather to the fact that leaving these items unattended, where small children can reach them, which is a parenting issue, *not* a product issue. Yet, the headlines always boldly display "e-cigs" as being the culprit. I was suggesting that e-cigs the the "bad guys" in these situations as much as Drano is should a child get a hold of it and drink it. (These stories are continually used, and rehashed as ammo against the e-cig industry.)

    Now to go back and question some of the initial article, that I missed the first time around...

    You stated in your article "It also shows that nicotine can be present in the electronic cigarette product, something that e-cig manufacturers and their supporters downplay." I would have to ask what e-cig vendors you're looking at as this would make *no sense* to do. E-cigs are marketed as a nicotine delivery product - as an alternate to smoking tobacco. Again, any legitimate vendor wouldn't downplay this. It's the "bread and butter" of the e-cig's function - delivering nicotine using an alternate method. The *benefit* of e-cigs is that the nic level is under the control of the *user* (can't do with tobacco). Nicotine strengths are splashed all over these websites. I would love to see where this has been downplayed by an e-cig vendor (and which vendor), or what article/reference this comes from.

    (Am going to run quickly through the rest as this is turning out to be more than I intended... Sorry!)

    Re. the comments from John Healy and your response... I can't see how banning, pushing e-cigs to the background, over-taxing them, is any different than saying to smokers, "go ahead and keep killing yourself with tobacco while we figure some stuff out". Obviously, nobody is dropping dead instantly from e-cigs, and over that past 5 years, I have yet to see a headline "Vaping kills [so-and-so]" I don't know on this one - to suggest continuing to use a product we *know* will kill you vs. one that "might, possibly kill you - once we do all the research to find out" ??? I can't see how that saves anyone.

    And as for "long-term research" - you suggesting that 5 years isn't enough... What is, 10? 20? 50? That equates to 5M, 10M, and 25M people dropping dead before anyone decides to nod their head and say "yeah, we're *pretty sure* these things are OK". And here's a snippet from the site on the FDA approval process time-frames:


    Q: How long does the drug approval process take?

    A: The 1992 Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) established a two-tiered system – Standard Review and Priority Review.

    Standard Review is applied to a drug that offers at most, only minor improvement over existing marketed therapies. The 2002 amendments to PDUFA set a 10 month goal for a standard review.

    Priority Review designation is given to drugs that offer major advances in treatment, or provide a treatment where none existed. The goal for completing a Priority Review is six months.


    So, if I interpret this correctly, a drug considered a "major advance" is reviewed over a 6 MONTH time-frame??? And you and others are suggesting 5+ years? Again, e-cigs have not been shown to be *immediately* toxic, and there doesn't seem to be any overwhelming research showing that 5-year vapors are dropping dead in record numbers, but are, by their own admission, feeling *improved* health benefits...

    OK...I will wrap up with my chuckle at the "vaping leads to tobacco" belief. Why? I mean, seriously, if someone started vaping (and I'm going to assume a legal adult user), with the myriad of hardware, the hundreds of flavors, the lack of 4000+ chemicals and 40+ carcinogens - why would they even want to consider "upgrading" to a product known to kill you, makes you smell bad, gets you busted pretty much instantly (assuming, in this case, you're a teen trying it out for the first time), gives you yellow teeth/fingers, costs 2x-3x more, and comes in two flavors (burnt leaves and burnt leaves with menthol)? I mean, even if it was just to *try* a cigarette compared to an e-cig - the initial couple puffs on a tobacco product tells the whole story. I would believe that that potential user would run, not walk, back to e-cigs... (Of course, it would be nicer if they just decided to quit altogether...) But that's all just my humble opinion...

    Thanks again, Greg, for your response. (And sorry for consuming so much of your Comments page - this *is* an involved, complex topic/conversation, however...) Take care.

  9. Gravatar for Craig

    Wow, my apologies, Greg, and everyone else. Apparently my keyboard was moving faster than my brain in a couple spots above, making some statements hard to decipher....

    In the "The point of my nicotine toxicity 'rant' was two-fold:" section.

    Under item #1... the quote should be "the DOSE makes the poison" - not "the does makes the poison".

    Under item #2... Let me clean up a couple statements there... "The comparison was not to nicotine vs. Drano, as it pertains to the toxicity of each, but rather to the fact that leaving these items unattended, or where small children can reach them, is a parenting issue - not a *product* issue."

    Then a couple sentences along... "I was suggesting that e-cigs are the 'bad guys' in these situations as much as the Drano would be, should a child get a hold of it and drink it." (referring to the fact that people don't blame the Drano in these cases, but the parents for not securing it - but with e-cigs, the finger is pointed squarely at the product).

    Thanks again for letting me clarify so as not to cause confusion!

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