On Tuesday, September 17, at 11:00 am (EDT), the Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC) is hosting a webinar titled “Health Hazards of Electronic Cigarettes.” The webinar presenter is Neal L. Benowitz, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of California San Francisco. This webinar is free to SOT members, owing to the Society’s membership in the SLC.
The impact of electronic cigarette use on population health is strongly influenced by the harms and risks of e-cigarettes. The harm from cigarette smoking is to a great extent caused by toxic products of tobacco combustion. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine in an inhalable aerosol without combustion. E-cigarettes do deliver propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, various flavoring chemicals, and their various thermal breakdown products, as well as particles; some of these chemicals are potentially toxic. E-cigarettes vary considerably in design, and the risk is almost certainly greater with those with bigger batteries that operate at higher temperatures. The long-term safety of e-cigarettes is unknown at this time. Major current health concerns in the United States relate to e-cigarette use by youth, particularly with respect to impaired adolescent brain development, development of nicotine addiction, and serving as a gateway to cigarette and other drug use. Short-term adverse effects include increased respiratory symptoms and asthma, although in smokers with chronic lung disease who switch completely to e-cigarettes, respiratory symptoms improve. Other health concerns include cardiovascular toxicity (particularly in people with preexisting heart disease) and reproductive toxicity during pregnancy. Direct nicotine toxicity from ingestion of nicotine-containing liquids can occur, particularly in children, but is uncommon.