Electronic cigarettes, used both as a stable alternative to smoking tobacco and as a method of cessation, have become wildly popular in recent times. Many smokers have taken up the practice as an alternative to smoking, while the hardware aspect has borne a thriving hobbyist community.
The safety of the practice is a largely contested subject, though most researchers agree that while the technology is new and relatively unproven, the use of an electronic cigarette is much less harmful to the health than that of tobacco. The primary worry in regards to the safety of the electronic cigarettes stem from the potential for poor production practices leading to dangerous adulterants being included in the juice – a worry which could easily be tackled with reasonable legislation regulating the production of the liquid.
The main reasoning behind the use of electronic cigarettes is that it’s
vastly less dangerous than smoking, since it doesn’t include the
countless carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco, along with the tar
produced as a natural byproduct of burning plant materials.
However, outside of the direct dangers of smoking – smokers of cigarettes also pose a risk of death and injury for themselves and others through the accidental cause of fires. The US National Fire Protection Association noted that cigarettes are responsible for more than 20% of fire-related deaths. In the US alone, this is almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers killed a year, along with a further 3,000 injured. Therefore, alongside the direct health benefits of the electronic cigarette, the lack of a fire risk has the potential to save many lives through fire prevention!
This is perhaps particularly relevant in the field of drug-related harm reduction, as many of these fires are caused by users falling asleep or simply forgetting about their cigarettes while under the influence.