E-cigarettes require stronger inhalation than conventional cigarettes, researchers say, which may make them less healthy than had previously been thought. The e-cigarettes, which are becoming increasingly popular, are nicotine-delivery devices that have no tobacco in them. They use a cartridge containing nicotine dissolved in a solvent, such as propylene glycol. When the user inhales through the device, it activates a battery that makes the tip glow red like a real cigarette and a small heater that vaporizes some of the contents, which can then be inhaled. Manufacturers say that the devices "smoke" like a conventional cigarette, but contain none of the hazardous carcinogens found in a conventional cigarette. The Food and Drug Administration, however, has warned that some of the products produce other carcinogens.
Cell Biologist Prue Talbot of UC Riverside and her colleagues used a smoking machine to study the smoking properties of eight conventional cigarettes and five leading brands of e-cigarettes. They reported in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research that, with the exception of one brand, higher suction was required to smoke the e-cigarettes. That means that any materials present in the aerosol produced by the device will be deposited deeper in the lungs, with unknown health effects.
Moreover, the researchers found that after the first 10 puffs, the aerosol density produced by the devices dropped significantly, varying widely, but typically requiring users to inhale even more strongly. They speculated that the devices could have the same results as low-tar cigarettes, which often led users to inhale more deeply and often to achieve adequate doses of nicotine.
Thomas H. Maugh II