One statement about the electronic cigarette that I have seen again and again is that the electronic cigarette contains pure nicotine. CNN, for example, states: The only ingredient: pure liquid nicotine”.
Reports often go on to claim we should not take up the electronic cigarette as we do not know the effects of pure nicotine. In the same article, for example, we find this paragraph:
“Nicotine is not the thing in tobacco smoke that causes cancer, but inhaling pure nicotine may be dangerous,” said Dr. Steven Schroeder, physician and smoking cessation expert at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. “We have no clue what the health effects could be.”
The last time I read this I remembered Dr Laugesen’s report on the electronic cigarette, and went to check it.
The report on the contents of the e-cigarette states:
“Using micro-electronics it [the electronic cigarette] vaporizes, separately for each puff, very small quantities of nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol, two small well-known molecules with excellent safety profiles, – into a fine aerosol. Each puff contains one third to one half the nicotine in a tobacco cigarette’s puff.”
Source: Electronic Cigarette Research
My intepretation of this is that far from inhaling pure nicotine we are actually inhaling less than nicotine than a cigarette contains.
(Update: Research since confirms that electronic cigarettes deliver less nicotine than tobacco cigarettes. However, while early models delivered little or no nicotine, anecdotal evidence suggests that more advanced devices are more effective delivery devices. )
However, I am no doctor, so I decided to contact Dr Laugesen directly. In reply to my question about the content, he said:
“The amount of nicotine per puff is approximately three to 10 times less for these non-burning methods using pure nicotine than it is from burning a Marlboro cigarette.
“If you were to inhale full strength nicotine it would make you cough, and you would find the taste very harsh.”
He also pointed out that pure nicotine is already in use today.
“The Nicorette inhaler gives pure nicotine and that is sold as a medicine. It has been sold safely in this way for at least 10 years. It is sold in cartridges of 2 ml each, each containing 10 mg nicotine. No deaths have been reported from Nicorette inhalers. Millions reported from smoking tobacco.”
Of course, testing, research and long terms studies will help us to assess the affects of e-cigarettes.
But to ban this product on the basis of the lies and misinformation currently being spread, while allowing cigarettes, which will kill one in two of long term smokers, to remain legal – well, that’s just plain crazy.