Public Release: 

E-cigarette use is not risk-free

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

E-cigarettes are not without health risks for people who vape or for bystanders. This is one of the conclusions from a new risk assessment report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

The report has only considered e-cigarettes with nicotine since there has been very little research about e-cigarettes without nicotine.

In summary

  • Since e-cigarettes supply nicotine in the same quantities as cigarette smoking, the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected.

  • The vapour from e-cigarettes contains so much nicotine that bystanders can ingest the same amount as with passive tobacco smoking. This may affect addiction to nicotine.

  • E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking tobacco, especially with regards to cancer.

  • The health risks of long-term e-cigarette use in the population are unknown.

"In Norway, it is mainly smokers and former smokers who use e-cigarettes. The question is if this will still be the case if e-cigarettes become more accessible. It is important to avoid e-cigarettes becoming a trend among adolescents and young adults, or to introduce non-smokers to nicotine addiction and tobacco use," says Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the NIPH.

More research needed

E-cigarettes have only been available for a short time and so there has been little research into exposure and potential harm. The NIPH's risk assessment is mainly based on evaluation of the individual components of e-cigarettes.

There is a wide range of e-cigarette types, with varying content of nicotine and other ingredients. Differing types and usage patterns will influence potential health damage. If e-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Norway, their use and possible adverse effects should be monitored by research.

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Facts about nicotine and health

  • Harms the cardiovascular system

  • Use during pregnancy can lead to impaired lung function development in the foetus and in later life

  • Has a negative impact on reproductive health (reduced birth weight, premature birth and stillbirth)

  • Children who find nicotine cartridges are at risk of poisoning.

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