Into Thin Air

Much has been made about the surge in the use of electronic cigarettes but what might be overlooked are the health effects that low-end electronic cigarettes have on its customers compared to that of the higher grade. With no quality assurance for any electronic smoking device, those who can only use the “economical” types of e cigarettes may be opening themselves up to additional health detriments though poor e cigarette construction.

The low end of the e cig market is filled with disposable products that costs anywhere from five to ten dollars, unsurprisingly these products are sold in lower income neighborhoods. Scientists at the University of California Riverside tested a “lower end” e cigarette model as well as a mid-range brand known as “Mistic”, both bought from a San Diego drug store. During the tests the liquid (or “juice) that is inside the e cig is heated and put inside a centrifuge and spun. The end product of the cheap brand, known as “Smoking Everywhere Platinum”, was a pellet that contained mostly tin, with trace amounts of some nickel and copper. Cheaper e cigarette devices may be prone to releasing metals during use due to the tin soldering coming off of the casing, a result of the cheap construction of the cartridge. The Mistic brand e cig had trace amounts of copper and no amounts of tin found due to no solders being used in the product, something common with higher end e cigs. Regulated manufacturing is inherently more expensive, but the switch to a standard set of rules for e cigarette production could lead to reduced instances of metal inhalation for those who cannot afford higher end e cigs.

The people being exposed to harmful e cigarettes are the same who are exposed to the lower end of actual cigarettes: poor minorities. Though the hold that cigarettes have on low income populations remains in a death grip e cigarette use is on the rise and much like cigarettes that are made on the cheap, e cigarettes made for as little money as possible carry inherently worse risks than those made with the consumer in mind. Lack of regulation in the electronic cigarette market allows bargain brands to pump out cheaply constructed disposable e cigs that open up lower income users to health problems from metal inhalation and nicotine poisoning, a greater push for regulation needs to come in order for lower income users to be as safe as their higher end e cigarette smoking counterparts.

One thought on “Into Thin Air”

  1. I would note that the higher end of the market is, in aggregate, much cheaper than the lower end. The problem is one of access, what is sold in the communities, and general knowledge about the equipment involved in e-cigarettes. For example, near the high end of the market in equipment is the Innokin iTaste MVP V2.0, costing around $60. That includes a high end battery, and a high quality atomizer. Mid-grade American nicotine juice can retail online for around $10 for 30ml, or $40 for 230ml. 230ml is more than a three months supply for heavy consumers.

    Taken together, equipment and three months of juice, you are looking at $110 investment after shipping. I rather hefty sum for low income smokers. Yet, dropping $10 on a disposable, often terribly functioning, e-cigarette a few times a week is an equally bad investment. If access and information increased, the same individuals could vape something much better, without the stray metals. As of right now, understanding of e-cigarettes, e-juice, and the general information barrier is also contributing to this problem, as much as access.

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