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The average person has probably heard two things about the vapor produced by electronic cigarettes: either it’s perfectly harmless, or it’s worse than cigarettes, forest fires, and nuclear explosions combined. You’ve probably heard more than once that “not enough studies have been done.”

4An electronic cigarette (e-cig or e-cigarette), personal vaporizer (PV) or electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) is a battery-powered vaporizer which simulates the feeling of smoking, but without tobacco combustion.[1] Their use is commonly called “vaping”.[2] The user automatically activates the e-cigarette by taking a puff;[3] other devices turn on by pressing a button manually.[4] They are often cylindrical, but come in many variations.

But even Five Pawns’ own tests showed alarmingly high rates of AP in some liquids. In Farsalinos’s study, the researchers converted National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits on diacetyl inhalation to determine an estimated safe amount to inhale through vaping. For AP, that limit was 137 micrograms per day. One of Five Pawns’ flavors had AP levels of 627.7 micrograms per millilitre. I couldn’t find any formal studies on the volume of e-liquid vapers smoke per day, but an online survey of users by E-Cigarette Forum found the plurality of respondents (22.6 percent) smoke four to five millilitres per day. A majority of respondents (59.8 percent) said they smoke between two and six millilitres per day.

The study also crucially points out that there is no evidence supporting the view that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to smoking tobacco, for adults and minors. Only 2% of young people in Britain vape regularly.

After Five Pawns published its lab results, the ECTA had to alert members to pull some of the products from the shelves because they contained AP levels above the organization’s limits. Anything with more than 100 micrograms per milliliter of AP can’t be sold by ECTA members, which meant they had to take five Five Pawns liquids had to be taken off the market in Canada, while another three liquids required “disclosure labelling.”

A 2012 research paper entitled Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapor from electronic cigarettes: “We found that the e-cigarette vapors contained some toxic substances. The levels of the toxicants were 9–450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product . . . our findings are consistent with the idea that substituting tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to selected tobacco-specific toxicants. E-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy among smokers unwilling to quit, warrants further study.”

There’s always going to be people who are freaked out by vaping and have no issue telling you. I’ve had a few people think that my e cig was a bong or drug related. If the person is up for a real dialog, feel free to explain what your e cig actually is and why you chose to use it over smoking, but if they aren’t, don’t sweat it. You know why you decided to switch, and that’s all that matters.

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While a lot of people liked the stock e cigs on the market, there was a small subset of people who wanted more out of their vaping experience.