TechKnow: E-Cigarettes, Safe Smoke - Full Episode

December 1, 2014 12:00AM ET

WATCH: TechKnow explores the e-cigarette craze, the science behind the vapor and whether it’s safe


In this “TechKnow" episode, contributor and molecular neuroscientist Crystal Dilworth explores the world of electronic cigarettes, from an e-cig convention in Anaheim, Calif., to a research lab at the University of California in San Francisco.

An e-cig is a new nicotine delivery device that’s come over recently to the U.S. and started growing exponentially as a business. There's a small lithium battery inside an e-cigarette’s customizable module, or “mod,” which powers an atomizer and then heats up a liquid solution (usually nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol plus flavoring and colors). The solution turns into vapor, which is inhaled and exhaled like smoke. The solutions, called “juices” because of the different fruity flavors available, can have nicotine concentrations from 0mg to 26mg. 3.  Are they healthier than regular cigarettes?

E-cigarettes do not burn, so there is no combustion to produce the harmful carcinogens that traditional cigarettes give off. This has led many to believe that they are healthier than traditional cigarettes. However, there have been few studies conducted on the nicotine solution used in e-cigs. There may be fewer carcinogens, Dilworth says, but e-cigs still contain nicotine and other ingredients that could be toxic when vaporized.

Original Air Date: April 19, 2014

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