Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I have been getting questioned lately on the use and safety of e-cigs. Therefore it is the topic of this week's blog.

It was invented in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert. It was later reintroduced by a Chinese Pharmacist (Hon Lik) in 2003. They have become quite popular in recent years.

What exactly are e-cigs?

Basically, they are cigarette shaped tubes which contain a battery powered heating element. When activated, the heat ignites the ingredients to produce a vapor. They were created as a "safe alternative" to cigarettes.

Are e-cigs safe?

Here is a concise answer......NO.

Yes, they relatively safer than traditional cigarettes, BUT they are still dangerous.

Here are some things to consider:

  • E-cigs eliminate smoke and tar which we all know are very detrimental to our health. So, we eliminate the negative effects of smoke and tar.

  • E-cigs contain three major ingredients.....Nicotine, propylene glycol and unspecified flavorings.

    • Nicotine is highly addictive. There are many adverse effects with this drug alone which are too numerous to list. Most of these effects can be categorized as cardiovascular, muscular, neurologic and psychotic. There is also a link to an impaired immune system.

    • Propylene glycol has been designated GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA since 1997. It is commonly used in foods and is generally recognized as safe when consumed. However, I completely disagree with the assertion that it is safe when inhaled. Chemically, it is a mineral oil. When the lungs are exposed to mineral oils, lung function is impaired. In addition, it acts as an irritant. So I say....NO, IT IS NOT GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE IN THE LUNGS.

    • Unspecified flavorings......Huh?!?

  • Excessive heat as we all know can damage everything it comes in contact with. Damage to the cells lining the entire airway is a real risk.

  • The vast majority of these e-cigs are manufactured in China. There are some major issues with consistency and variability in the products (even within the same factory).

  • Second-hand vapor is still an issue.

In conclusion, if you are already a cigarette smoker, then perhaps this is a safer alternative in your quest to completely eliminate the habit. If you aren't currently a smoker and believe that "vaping" is a safe alternative, then think again. I advise you to never start.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

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