Mixed messages abound, with e-cigarettes being touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, several observational studies in humans, including one presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in 2018, have shown an association between e-cigarette use and COPD, even when controlling for cigarette smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Another claim is that e-cigarettes help current smokers to quit or smoke less. But e-cigs have the opposite effect for most people; a 2015 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that smokers who use e-cigarettes were 59 percent less likely to stop smoking than those who smoke traditional cigarettes alone. Being a dual user is worse than using either e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes alone.
Like traditional cigarettes, an e-cigarette generates an aerosol of ultrafine particles to carry the nicotine deep into your lungs, but it uses a battery to heat a coil that’s wrapped around a wick soaked in a nicotine-containing liquid. E-cigarettes do not generate the combustion products that cigarettes do, but the ultrafine particles are themselves dangerous, as is the nicotine. E-cigs contain cancer-causing chemicals and fine metal particles that can be cancer-causing.
E-cigarettes have only been available and used in substantial numbers for about 10 years, and it takes time for researchers to see the effects. But the more experts study them, the worse e-cigarettes look.