Photo Cred - Mykel Leddel
You've no doubt seen an e-cigarette in the hands and mouths of many Montrealers.  The fruity flavours, air of health benefits, and ability to smoke anywhere have made the city fall in love with the cig-alternative. But what do we really know about e-cigarettes, and should Montrealers be smoking them at all?

After a few years of unregulated access, the FDA has cracked down on the $2 billion industry in the U.S. with a new set of formal regulations. E-cigs with nicotine aren't allowed to be sold in Canada, but that's only part of the problem.

A major reason for the e-cigarette's surge in popularity is their reputation for being "healthier" than regular cigarettes, as in this study. The truth on e-cigarette's health benefits is less than positive.

Here's a rundown on very real e-cigarette concerns that every Montrealer should know:

  • The aforementioned study has been denounced by the American Cancer Society
  • E-cigarettes have only been around for 7 years, not nearly enough time to know the long-term effects of inhaling heated propylene glycol (a main ingredient in e-cigarettes)
  • No regulation exists on what manufacturers can put in e-cig concoctions, and they're not even required to list ingredients
  • FDA studies have found toxins like diethylene glycol and nitrosamines in some brands of e-cigarettes
  • Nicotine is still a key ingredient in e-cigs, known to be highly addictive and harmful to pregnant women and teens. Thankfully these aren't sold in Canada
  • E-liquids used in e-cigs are powerful neurotoxins and (when ingested or absorbed) can cause vomiting, seizures, and even kill a person, according to the NY Times.
  • Fruity flavours (e.g. Gummy Bear) have obvious artificial ingredients and are arguably aimed towards kids and teens

As is stands now, Canada as whole has no stance on e-cigarettes, at least for those without nicotine.  Health Canada is basically pulling a "wait and see" by not giving any direction to provinces and to the citizens.

Should Montrealers, who actively smoke e-cigarettes, do the same, despite how harmful e-cigs could be? A complete ban on e-cigarettes in Montreal (or in all of Quebec) would be pretty extreme, but the city should make an effort to at least regulate the product and inform consumers about the potential risks.

Everyone knows real cigarettes are bad for you, that's pretty much a given. E-cigarettes may be better for you, but they could also be way worse for your health.  We're not advocating smoking of any kind, but at least you know what you're getting with a classic cigarette.

What do you think about e-cigarettes?

For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte
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