Although marketing publicity suggests that e-cigarettes tend to be less damaging than traditional cigarette smoking, there is precious little scientific proof. The vaporisation mechanism of e-cigarettes delivers the nicotine content as a vapour (through the glycol and glycerine vape ingredients) instead of as smoke. However, even though the suppliers’ advertising claims that e-cigarettes are relatively safe, health risks do still exist. Certainly, nicotine is so highly addictive that it can harm adolescent brains. Furthermore, chemical substances in the extra artificial flavourings might well have long-term health effects. In Canada, for instance, grape flavouring was voluntarily recalled after concerns that the diacetyl content could cause lung problems.
Diacetyl is an ingredient in various foods and beverages such as microwave popcorn (for its butterscotch flavour), in addition to beers and wines. Although a natural by-product from fermentation, reports suggest that inhalation of its vapour is toxic. In particular, the substance affects respiratory ability at alveolar level (the smallest parts of the lungs, where gaseous exchange takes place in the bloodstream). Consequently, diacetyl exposure may cause popcorn lung*, a rare and irreversible type of bronchiolitis with scarring and narrowing of the airways.
Additionally, e-cigarettes have exploded and caused burns and injury in users’ mouths. Unfortunately, lithium batteries may overheat, explode and ignite carpets, curtains, drapes, bedding, couches or vehicle seats that, of course, burn rapidly. In some cases, e-cigarette devices have led to dental damage, severe burns, blindness, physical and emotional scarring and other permanent injuries.
Manufacturers are legally obliged to produce devices that feature proper safety mechanisms and measures. For these reasons, various e-cigarette related lawsuits and claims are in progress as users have decided to sue for compensation.