One thing has become evidently clear: Most people, including the “scientifically based public health organizations”, do not understand the difference between combustion and vaporization. While we can completely understand a typical person would not, we are baffled as to why those with concerns about second hand smoke do not understand the fundamental basics between smoke and vapor, which means, they simply do not understand the difference between combustion and vaporization.

The electronic cigarette uses a vaporizer. No fire is needed to power the vaporizer. A battery is used to power the vaporizer.

The electronic cigarette consists of three parts: The mouthpiece, the atomizer (or vaporizer) and a lithium ion battery. When the entire unit is assembled, the user creates an inhaling motion which activates the battery. The battery powers the vaporizer and the vaporizer heats the liquid housed in the mouthpiece. The liquid itself is composed of nicotine, propylene glycol and flavorings. Please note that the liquid does not have to contain nicotine and many eSmokers are currently using non-nicotine liquids in their electronic cigarettes.

Propylene glycol makes up between 75% and 89% of the products on the market. Propylene glycol is commonly found in products including and not limited to: Consumer products and food products, including and not limited to deodorants, pharmaceuticals, moisturizing lotions, toothpastes, inhalers and fat-free dairy products.

1. Affects to Users. The FDA recently studied two brands of electronic cigarette liquid (1) and the report noted that the two brands tested contained low amounts of nitrosamines which are also found in many products including nicotine replacement therapies such as the gum, the patch and the Nicotrol Inhaler. The Commit Lozenge is the only nicotine product that does not contain nitrosamines. (2) Nitrosamines are also found in meats purchased from the local grocery store and increase in toxicity levels based on the temperatures at which they are cooked. They can also be found in beer and are finally, injected into food products like bacon.

A peer review of the FDA study, noted that according to the manufacturer’s information of the Nicotrol Inhaler, the user receives more nicotine than with an electronic cigarette. (3) A further study found users of the electronic cigarette will receive 1/3 of the nicotine than with a tobacco cigarette. (4) Please remember, this is based on nicotine content in the liquid and there are a variety of nicotine levels available, including zero nicotine liquids.

The review of the FDA report also found, as the liquid is vaporized and not ingested, that the only impurities found in the inhaled vapor at trace levels were cotinine or β-nicotyrine and “There is no indication in the published scientific literature that cotinine or β-nicotyrine are carcinogenic or have toxicity ratings of concern.” (4) Further studies on the vapor produced by vaporization are currently underway to insure these findings can stand up to further peer review.

2. Affects to Bystanders. In September of 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), determined that “the Agency has concluded that there are no endpoints of concern for oral, dermal, or inhalation exposure to propylene glycol.” It was also noted that “A review of the available data has shown propylene glycol to be negative for carcinogenicity in studies [and] therefore, no further carcinogenic analysis is required.” (5)

Propylene glycol vapors and mists have been studied since the early 40’s on all types of specimens from monkeys, rats, human adults and human children. It IS the base ingredient in most anti-bacterial air products found in hospitals. (6) Also found was “Lacking any active ingredient or any gaseous products of combustion, the PG mist or ‘smoke’ is not harmful to bystanders. The ‘smoke’ or mist is not tobacco smoke, and not from combustion – no flame is lit – and is not defined as environmental tobacco smoke.”(4)

Philip Morris conducted a study on their tobacco cigarettes finding that combustion releases a minimum 4,000 by-products including Carbon Monoxide, Arsenic, Hydrogen Cyanide and Formaldehyde to just name some of the worst ones. (7) With vaporization, studies have shown that these chemicals are simply not present because a much higher rate of burning of 1000 degrees is needed, where the vaporizer of an electronic cigarette only reaches between 40 and 65 degrees. (4)(1)

To date, there is no evidence that nicotine is present in the vapor from liquids with or without nicotine. “Inhaled nicotine in cigarette smoke is over 98% absorbed, and so the exhaled mist of the e-cigarette is composed of propylene glycol, and probably contains almost no nicotine; and no CO.” (4) Again, further studies on the vapor produced by vaporization are currently underway to insure these findings can stand up to further peer review.

Another interesting study, for those with concern to Second Hand Smoke should review, is the burning of incense. One study notes “that incense use is associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinomas in the respiratory tract, especially in the upper part. This association is consistent with a large number of studies identifying carcinogens in incense smoke, and given the widespread and sometimes involuntary exposure to smoke of burning incense, these findings carry significant public health implications”.(8)

While there are differences of opinion on the real damage that can be done by second hand smoke from combustion, there are also amazing studies that have been done on vaporization and confusing the two needs to stop. It is very clear that many of the local smoking ordinances that are popping up and include electronic cigarettes in the definition of “smoke”, are simply wrong, misguided and are not based on any scientific fact whatsoever.

Public health organization need to make the distinction between combustion and vaporization and stop referring to the vapor of an electronic cigarette as “smoke” or as the Non-Smokers Rights Association was quoted today in the Inland Daily Bulletin as saying: “Despite the insufficient amount of testing, Tegen said the organization believes the electronic cigarette should not be considered as a substitute for smoking tobacco cigarettes and is concerned about the risks of inhaling second-hand smoke from the electronic version.”

It’s not smoke Ms. Tegan. It’s VAPOR! There is a huge difference and if your organization would like to study this further, you might just see the electronic cigarette for what it truly is: Something that non-smokers can embrace so that smokers no longer bother them with their second hand smoke.