E-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have gained popularity in recent years among young people and former cigarette smokers as they’re perceived to be healthier and are a more socially-accepted alternative to conventional smoking. But are they as harmless as the promoters of e-cigarettes claim them to be?
Electronic nicotine delivery systems were invented in 2003 by a pharmacist in China. They began to appear on the market in 2004 and have since been steadily gaining popularity and turning into a multi-billion dollar industry.
ENDS are a hand-held electronic device that heats up a liquid turning it into an aerosol that can be easily inhaled by the users. The liquid that is designed to be used with ENDS is called e-liquid and it often contains nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and variations of flavourings.
ENDS have been marketed as a ‘healthier’ alternative to cigarette smoking as the aerosol can deliver nicotine without generating toxic tobacco combustion products. However there are growing concerns over the long-term effects of the ENDS use as well as a growing popularity among non-smokers, particularly the youth.
While the general health benefits may be better in comparison to conventional smoking, there is evidence to suggest that ENDS are still quite harmful when it comes to your oral health.
A study conducted in 2016 in Canada showed that a large number of mouth cells exposed to e-cigarette vapour in the laboratory die within a few days. Those cells were predominantly oral mucous membrane cells that act as a first line of defence against bacteria and other pathogens.
By breaching that defensive barrier, oral tissues become more prone to infections, inflammation, gum disease and even oral cancer if they are exposed to vapour over long-term.
It was also found that some flavours can be more harmful than others due to their chemical composition. What’s concerning is that manufacturers don’t have to disclose the constituents of those flavourings.
Additionally not all ENDS are made the same, variations of battery voltage and unit circuitry which can result in variability of the concentration of nicotine and other constituents of the aerosol.
While we can’t make your choices for you, we do urge both vape and conventional smokers to have regular oral cancer checkups—which we conduct as standard here at Bite.