by Dr. Michael Siegel
In an article about electronic cigarettes at the KTLA (Los Angeles) web site, a physician is quoted as cautioning the public about the use of these products because they involve combustion.
Wrong on both accounts.
First of all, electronic cigarettes do not involve combustion. The juice is heated with an electric element to vaporize the nicotine, but there is no combustion. You do not "light" an electronic cigarette. Since there is no combustion, there is no smoke. Most importantly, there is no tobacco involved.
Second of all, we do know the chemical makeup of electronic cigarette vapor. There are a number of laboratory studies in which the composition of electronic cigarette vapor was analyzed using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. I have summarized the major findings of these studies in the review article I co-authored with Zachary Cahn, which was published in the Journal of Public Health Policy.
This story illustrates two important points.