Facing the facts: the truth about E-cigs and nicotine
When it comes to cigarettes and their harmful ingredients, much emphasis tends always to be put on the chemical nicotine. Well, that’s understandable; it is the ingredient that, like it or not, is responsible for so many smokers finding it so difficult to break away from tobacco and ‘kick the habit’. Yet, is nicotine – also present in E-liquids for E-cigarettes – the most evil of all ills? It is, after all, also present (albeit in smaller quantities) in the universally lauded vegetables that are aubergines, tomatoes, green peppers and even humble old potatoes.
Given that nicotine is undoubtedly to be found in E-juices, should you be concerned about making the switch from conventional cigarettes? How much better for your health will they be? Good questions – and they can be addressed by answering three even more pertinent questions…
Nicotine is poisonous, right?
A misconception that’s not helpful is that nicotine should be avoided at all costs due to its toxicity. But, when faced with the reality of what nicotine is and what it does, many people would surely not come to that stark conclusion. Nicotine should neither be taken in large doses nor should it be consumed by in such a way that it’ll be digested in the body, but nonetheless it’s actually no more toxic – or poisonous – than caffeine. And the latter’s a major, addictive ingredient in both coffee and tea, as the vast majority of people are aware, so much so that it’s also only medically advised to consume in small doses. Indeed, as with caffeine via coffee and tea, it’s generally difficult to copiously consume nicotine in single hits from cigarettes, and nicotine patches, let alone from E liquid in E-cigarettes. Quite frankly, when you really get down to it, if you consume too much oxygen or water, they can poison you.
But it’s still addictive, yes?
Sure; there’s no getting away from the fact that, when consumed, nicotine acts as a stimulant and ‘perks up’ the brain by triggering the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Thus, yes, nicotine is undoubtedly addictive. Again, in this respect, it acts in a very similar fashion to caffeine, which also triggers neurotransmitters in the brain to make you feel more alert than you otherwise would be.
Yet, while nicotine is addictive, yes, and is present in E-liquids just as it is in conventional cigarettes, yes, there’s one important thing to remember; it’s not joined in E-liquids by all the harmful ingredients it is in ordinary cigarettes – the likes of hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and ammonia. Indeed, among the 250 harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, evidence suggests that at least 69 of them can cause cancer. In short, just because it’s addictive, nicotine isn’t responsible for all the truly harmful ills present in traditional tobacco-driven cigarettes.
Can it still discolour fingers and teeth, though?
Finally; no, it can’t – not in E-liquids. Principally because the horribly ugly, yellowy-brown staining of the tips of fingers and teeth (despite how much cleaning of them you attempt) that regular smoking of cigarettes causes, isn’t caused by nicotine. Specifically speaking, this occurs because of the various unpleasant, harmful ingredients that feature in cigarette tar; which comes about when nicotine’s burned. On its own, nicotine’s entirely colourless, it’s not capable of staining anything – and, what’s more, no burning of nicotine and so no production of tar takes place in E-cigarettes.
Quite frankly, if you’re looking to ‘kick the habit’ – that is, take a step away from tar and all its harmful ingredients – then moving from tobacco-packed, tar-packed cigarettes to E-liquids and E-cigarettes is a wise step. Because it’s the tar and its associated carcinogenic chemicals that do your body nothing but harm; not nicotine on its own.