Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Vaping: The “Healthy” Alternative

Everybody knows that smoking is bad for them. Countless studies have linked the use of tobacco cigarettes with  greatly increasing the incidences of various cancers. Enter vaping; the new kid on the block in terms of the smoking community.

Electronic cigarettes or ‘e-cigs’ as they are known are vaporizing devices which can be used to replace the conventional cigarette. Coils made from various metal types are attached to a deck or base platform which is linked to a battery (AKA  mod). Cotton runs through the center and an e-liquid (or juice) is added saturating the fibers. An electric current is run through the coils creating heat which in turn vaporizes the e-liquid as the name of the device suggests.


Here we have a modern method for the delivery of the highly addictive stimulant nicotine into the body but the question remains – is vaping a healthy alternative to smoking? The answer is currently unclear as there have been few studies done to support either a positive or negative argument.


However lack of scientific material on the subject doesn’t stop pro-vapers from proclaiming health benefits. A popular argument in current circulation of the internet is that the ingredients in the vapour produced are less damaging to the lungs. There are four main ingredients in e-liquid:

  1. propylene glycol – an organic compound with a variety of uses including use in food processing
  2. glycerine – another organic compound used as a sweetener in the food industry (among other things)
  3. flavourings – can be natural or artificial depending on the producers preference
  4. nicotine – the highly toxic, highly addictive stimulant

Both propylene glycerol and glycerine are compounds already used in many different applications such as the production of food, medicines and products used in the industrial industry. Both are FDA approved substances , in their respective safe quantity’s, as there is no evidence to suggest that they are hazardous to the public. However its important to point out that the FDA focuses largelFront covery on consumption of these products orally or through direct contact with the skin, not inhalation into the lungs as this is a relatively new use of these compounds. As the flavorings can vary so can the substances used in their production. Again reiterating that even if a flavoring is approved for use in a food setting it may not mean its okay to breathe into your lungs.

In Australia vendors are not allowed to sell the e- juice pre-nicotined leaving it up to the user to add the drug themselves. Being able to control the nicotine levels yourself, whist allowing vapers their choice of strength, means that there is the potential for dangerously high quantities of the substance to be added. If vaping is to continue regulations about the nicotine content of the e-liquid should be taken into consideration.

The truth of the matter is that at this stage nobody actually knows if vaping is more harmful than cigarette smoking. But that’s not to say it isn’t, in fact it could be even worse. Long term studies on the inhalation of e-liquids are needed in order to confirm deleterious effects. In the meantime it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not the benefits of the use of a vaping device outweigh potential risks. Breathe the free air people.


Cahn, Zachary, and Michael Siegel. “Electronic Cigarettes as a Harm Reduction Strategy for Tobacco Control: A Step Forward or a Repeat of past Mistakes?” Journal of Public Health Policy 32 (2011): 16-31. Palgrave Macmillan. 09 Dec. 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2016. <;.

“Glycerin and Glycerides.” Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Glycerin and Glycerides. Food and Drug Administration, 09 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2016. <;.

“Propylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol Monostearate.” Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Propylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol Monostearate. Food and Drug Administration, 29 Sept. 15. Web. 13 Apr. 2016. <;.

“Public Health Statement: Propylene Glycol.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <;


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One comment on “Vaping: The “Healthy” Alternative

  1. Nez
    May 8, 2016

    Hi there,
    I enjoyed reading this well written and structured blog. It is well detailed and has enough information for the reader to understand the topic and what you are trying to address. Since these vaping devices came out i have been reading about them, on paper it does not appear to have anything harmful especially that there are devices with no nicotine at all which is only flavour. i personally know someone that has been vaping since they came out without any consequences yet however, no one knows if it will be harmful. You made a very interesting point ‘through direct contact with the skin, not inhalation into the lungs as this is a relatively new use of these compounds’ as it’s something that was never tested before and only time can tell what it can result in. Overall a great blog.


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This entry was posted on April 15, 2016 by in Geelong - Friday 3pm.

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