All studies available on the electronic cigarette admit one thing: the steam generated by an electronic cigarette is much less harmful to the body than tobacco smoke. In the details of this “risk reduction”, however, many studies can contradict each other.
The complexity of scientific debates
The contradictions that have become almost classic in the current scientific field focus on a small group of compounds deemed harmful by the body. Most of the time, it will be debated about the possible concentrations of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor, acrolein or more generally on the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC). These discussions that sometimes make the headlinestend to make the smoker forget something essential. Tobacco smoke from combustion has thousands of compounds harmful to the body. Nitrosamines, tars, fine particles or carbon monoxide (CO) will be used to briefly describe the constituents of a deadly cocktail for the body that do not exist in the vapor of an electronic cigarette.
If debates exist on the presence or the concentration of certain compounds, it is on the one hand a very limited number of elements. On the other hand, the experimental protocols used in the studies do not follow a predefined standard. Depending on the type of material and the use that can be made of it, certain concentrations can indeed increase, this will be the case for example formaldehyde in case of poor hydration of the wick in e-liquid (dry hit). Thus, in the absence of standardized references, each experimenter will be able to follow a different protocol and thus produce results that can strongly contrast with other studies. This makes the debates rather complicated. Finally,very far from reality .
Nicotine itself, even if a certain current of public health thought demonizes it still today, tends to be forgotten in this assessment of absolute risk. Nicotine will, however, be much more easily evoked in global public health issues, such as the gateway effect or addiction .
With regard to propylene glycol , one of the main compounds of e-liquids, scientific knowledge is quite advanced. As far as aromas are concerned , this is yet another current of research that has just been created.