Vaping has become what retired pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm describes as the status symbol of the 21st century. While many men, women, and adolescents have picked up the habit, the American Lung Association and FDA still question whether e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, or e-cigs for short, are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Unlike traditional cigarettes, ENDS employ a refillable nicotine cartridge and heating element to release a chemical-filled vapor instead of smoke, says Marla Ahlgrimm. E-cigs utilize a flavored liquid mixed with tobacco extract and propylene glycol. The American Lung Association reports that it is unclear exactly what other chemicals are in e-cigarettes. In 2009, lab tests found cancer-causing substances in two of the most popular e-cig cartridges. A follow-up study in 2014 found that higher voltage e-cigarette devices released considerable levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.