Commonly referred to as e-Cigarettes, PV’s (personal vaporisers) are the newest alternative to cigarettes, having only been invented by the Chinese company Ruyan in 2003. They are essentially a portable version of an atomizer used to deliver medication via the mouth and airways (ie some asthma medication is delivered in this fashion).

Electronic-Cigarette-Anatomy

PV’s can contain nicotine but don’t have to – and they can be used with or without flavour as a way of replacing the ritual of smoking. Due to their relative “youth” when compared to other smoking alternatives, there are currently only a small number of clinical studies available to assess their long term safety.

PV’s run off a liquid that is primarily a base of either propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerine (VG) (used in theatrical smoke machines). Flavour or nicotine can also be added based on personal preference. Health New Zealand has run a complete clinical trial indicating that PG/VG is completely harmless.

If using nicotine, then intake via this method is just as safe as other NRTs while the flavours have shown no side effects – assuming they are not oil based and do not contain diacetyl (used as a food flavour to give a buttery taste and linked to serious upper respiratory disease).

The user breathes in on the device which either manually or automatically heats the liquid into a vapour that the user inhales. This means that both the inhalation and exhalation (“second hand smoke”) are vapour, not smoke, and quite harmless to those around you.

As mentioned above you do need to be careful with the flavours. Some studies have shown tobacco flavours do contain trace amounts of carcinogens such as nitrosamines (since they are made using real tobacco) but the amounts are thousands of times less than in actual cigarette smoke and are comparable to the amounts found in other NRTs.

Some examples of the clinical studies done so far include:

New Zealand Health – “Based on the manufacturer’s information, the composition of the cartridge liquid is not hazardous to health, if used as intended.”

Boston University“[f]ew, if any, chemicals at levels detected in electronic cigarettes raise serious health concerns.” Electronic cigarettes were found to be “much safer” than traditional tobacco ones, and had a level of toxicity similar to existing nicotine replacements”


Despite recent scare-mongering in the USA and Canada, nicotine itself (when not combined with the other chemicals in cigarettes) is no more dangerous than caffeine and has very similar effects on human physiology. It’s important to remember when considering smoking alternatives that it’s the smoking that is really bad for you, not so much the nicotine.

UPDATE: As of today (April 25th, 2011) the FDA has backed down on it’s fight against PV’s and abided by the USA Court ruling to have them classified as a “Tobacco Product” meanings their sale and use in the USA is now no longer contended.

Currently the importation and resale of the PV hardware, bases and flavours is legal. It is also currently legal to import liquid with a nicotine content for personal usage (up to a 3 month supply), it is illegal to resell nicotine liquid.

The amount of nicotine is PV liquid is usually 4mg, 8mg, 12mg or 24mg per ml – so with the average cartridge holding less than 1ml, the dosages are no more dangerous than other existing NRTs. “Pure” nicotine juice (99.8%) is also available to import and mix, but these bring the levels up to a massive 980mg/ml and require extensive safety precautions to handle.

e-cig userAt this stage, PV’s provide the most effective (according to anecdotal evidence) and safest smoking replacement, even if not used as a cessation aid. The best solution would be to remove the current bans on the resale of nicotine juice, but to ban the importation or resale of concentrations above 100mg/ml (the highest dosage still generally considered to be safe to handle by non-professionals) without a license. What is most important factor in this equation is that nicotine juice, if ever fully legalised for sale locally, is not taxed the same way tobacco products are. Should this happen, the cost increase would largely eliminate the incentive for many users (as is the case now with smokeless tobacco) and you would find a lot of current PV users returning to tobacco cigarettes – the worst possible option.

Further clinical trials are required to understand the long term effects, but what is perfectly clear even at this early stage is that PV usage is far safer and more effective than any other tobacco replacement option even if it does mean replacing one habit with another.

Original Article Source | http://ataca.org.au/smokescreen/smoking-alternatives/personal-vapourizers


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