Since the invention of e-cigarettes hit the market over eleven years ago, the popularity of these devices has swarmed to enormous levels. Almost every month there is a new company coming out of the woodwork attempting to promote their “groundbreaking” e-cigarette or vaping device. Yet with all of these vapor companies competing for your business it leads to the obvious question, do all e-cigarettes provide the same benefit? An even better question to be asking is, are all electronic cigarettes created equal?

There are literally thousands of different brands and variations of e-cigarettes on the market today across the world. Products range from first generation disposable “cig-a-like” e-cigarettes that can be purchased at gas stations or convenience stores for slightly more than a pack of traditional cigarettes, all the way up to completely customizable variable voltage/wattage Mods which can cost a pretty penny. Despite what style of electronic vaping device you may prefer, both the low-end and high-end products should provide relatively similar health advantages over smoking combustible cigarettes right? Wrong!

Recent studies conducted on low-end electronic cigarettes have revealed these devices are made with substantially cheaper materials, and with hardly any quality control. This discovery spurred a group of scientists to study the health effects these low-end e-cigarettes have on consumers compared to the higher-end electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. Head researcher, Prue Talbot, and her group of scientists at the University of California Riverside found some surprising results when they tested two “cig-a-like” type e-cigarette brands, one low-end brand and one mid-level brand.

The university’s specialized lab, equipped with a centrifuge, smoking machine and electronic scanning microscope was used to examine the e-liquid inside the e-cigarette and break down the materials in order to evaluate the individual parts. The scientists first tested the low-end e-cigarette, “Smoking Everywhere Platinum”, a product made in China and sold across the United States. Once the e-liquid was heated and spun inside the centrifuge the remaining particles produced a dark round pellet containing a large amount of tin, as well as smaller amounts of nickel and copper. According to the researchers, many of these cheaply made e-cigarettes and cartridges can release heavy metals during use because the tin soldering on and around the wires comes off the casing.

Nanoparticles in general can be toxic, In the case of e-cigarettes, the nanoparticles would tend to go deeper into the respiratory system

The second brand, “Mistic”, a mid-level e-cigarette sold in convenience stores, was tested using the same methods but with slightly different results. This brand produced noticeable amounts of copper, and when tested on the “smoking machine” also found calcium and potassium. Interestingly the “Mistic” e-cigarette didn’t have any traces of tin due to the lack of solders in the device. This practice is similar to the construction of high-end e-cigarettes according to the study’s scientists.

Dr. Talbot stated, "I think the fact there is significant amount of tin in these pellets is important. This means the people using this product are going to be inhaling the tin,” she further supported her point by saying, "Nanoparticles in general can be toxic, In the case of e-cigarettes, the nanoparticles would tend to go deeper into the respiratory system”.

This article brings up an important point regarding the correlation between socioeconomic distribution and these low-end electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, these low-end vaping devices are generally sold in lower income regions where the majority of individuals are limited by either the selection of e-cigarettes or by the price of higher quality devices. The people living in these neighborhoods and using these cheap, harmful, low-quality e-cigarettes are the same individuals that are at a higher level of danger for metal inhalation from these products. Additionally, these same individuals are also more likely to return to using traditional cigarettes due to the poor quality and experience from these economic e-cigarettes.

The discovery of these heavy metals in the two Chinese made e-cigarettes confirms the importance of being an informed vaper and knowing exactly what type of company you are purchasing from. This includes examining the type of quality control standards each company or manufacture has in place for their products before purchasing from them. Providing more effective and much safer e-cigarettes to all adults, of every income level, just might be the push e-cig activists and supporters need to boost the number of people calling for appropriate and nonrestrictive regulations. Demanding accurate regulation, one separate from control over tobacco products, must be obtained in order to ensure all low-income adult vapers are just as safe as the users of high-end devices.

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