What are electronic cigarettes and what are their health effects

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The consumption of the electronic cigarette (in spanish: cigarrillo electrónicoEnlaces a un sitio externo.) has increased in recent years within the society. Some do it for pleasure, others for fashion, and others because they believe that thanks to them they will be able to stop smoking.

Over time, several countries have joined the ban on smoking in public places, many people have thought if it is an opportunity to stop smoking. This has influenced a certain attraction towards what is also known as vapeo.

The impact has been so overwhelming that, for example, according to official figures from Spain, in 2013 alone more than 3,000 stores were opened in that country for the sale of electronic cigarettes (cigarrillos electrónicosEnlaces a un sitio externo.), accessories and consumables.

But are they really effective in quitting tobacco? Do they reduce the risks of smoking traditional cigarettes? In their safe consumption as many people claim? What are the risks?

Since their use has generated much controversy, in this article we will analyze in depth the reality about the electronic cigarette, so that you can decide if you should continue using them or not.

What does it consist of?

The electronic cigarette or e-cigarEnlaces a un sitio externo. consists of a device powered by a battery, which uses a resistor to heat a liquid solution that turns into vapor, which is sucked by the consumer.

This vapour is composed of different concentrations of nicotine, or by diverse aromatizing additives that fulfill the function of giving a determined flavour to the user.

Although some people think that this is a recent invention, in reality the first of these was created in 1963. Fifty-seven years ago, Hebert A. Gilbert filed a patent application for a device he described as replacing paper-based tobacco and combustion with hot, moist flavored air.

This invention, however, did not contemplate nicotine, but simply the aspiration of flavored vapors. 

Because smoking was then socially accepted and there was no limit to its consumption in public spaces, Hebert A. Gilbert's creation was not commercially successful, and was forgotten.

It was in 2013 when Hon Lik, an Asian pharmacist decided to take up the idea again after his father's death from lung cancer, and set himself the goal of evolving the electronic cigarette. And so he did, this device achieved success and was introduced in more countries at an accelerated pace. Today his business is in practically the whole world.

Harmless or toxic?

This is one of the most common debates about the electronic cigarette. Health experts have claimed that they are harmful, and others have come out to claim that their use is not entirely related to possible health problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed to discourage their use, and has consistently urged authorities to strengthen controls on these devices, including restrictive measures that include their distribution and promotion.

The health body justifies itself by stating that the lack of regulation of electronic cigarettes means that, in some cases, nicotine doses are not certified.

Various researches have indicated that the continuous inhalation of propylene glycol and glycerol can cause damage to the respiratory tract in the long term. These components are usually found in the pharmaceutical industry, which considers them to be non-toxic, but it is precisely their excess consumption that can be harmful.

Other studies claim that simple vaulting causes harmful health effects by increasing resistance to breathing, increased air passage, and irritation of the respiratory mucosa. 


The lack of control over the distribution of vapers meant that minors could access them without any restrictions. This, in turn, made them very popular among the young population.

Over time, in some countries this practice has been stopped by banning their marketing to minors. In other nations, its use in public spaces has also been prohibited, as have traditional cigars.

Argentina, Australia, Greece, Mexico, Panama, Singapore and Venezuela are some of the countries where the use of the electronic cigarette is prohibited, and in others they are considering taking the same measure.  

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