Propylene glycol in e cigarettes might keep us healthy, says researchers

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, during 2000-2004, "An estimated 443,000 persons in the United States died prematurely each year from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. During 2001-2004, the average annual smoking-attributable health-care expenditures nationwide were approximately $96 billion. When combined with productivity losses of $97 billion, the total economic burden of smoking is approximately $193 billion per year."

Comparing the health risks of tobacco smoking to the Swine Flu brings out some interesting and thought provoking statistics. According to President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on H1N1, "A plausible scenario is that the epidemic could cause between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths in the United States." That puts the comparison of real deaths of 443,000 smokers to a "war games guess" of 30,000 to 90,000 for the H1N1 influenza for which the government recently declared a Health Emergency. That declaration and the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine has caused a panic in the U.S.

No study or statistic has been offered that points to the Swine Flu as being more deadly than tobacco cigarettes in causing death, yet a disproportional effort in preventative measures are currently being channeled to defend against a lower risk health issue. Toxic tobacco smoke contains many additional chemicals, including carbon monoxide and tar which is a sticky substance that accumulates in the lungs, causing lung cancer and respiratory distress. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world and is responsible for more than 5 million deaths each year.

What the flu vaccine is to H1N1 as a preventative, the electronic cigarette may be for the tobacco smoker. An electronic cigarette is a futuristic advancement in science that makes it look, feel, and taste like a tobacco cigarette, as the user duplicates the mechanical motions. It expels an almost odorless water vapor that looks like smoke, but isn't. The e cigarettes are battery-powered with a cartridge that typically contains nicotine in various levels (or none), propylene glycol and tobacco flavoring. In their October briefing, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in the United Kingdom released a favorable position on electronic cigarettes.

Propylene glycol, the primary ingredient in the electronic cigarette cartridge, may be a powerful deterrent against pneumonia, influenza, and other respiratory diseases when vaporized and inhaled according to a study by Dr. Oswald Hope Robertson. Decades before the e cigarette was invented, a study was conducted by Dr. Robertson of the University of Chicago's Billings Hospital in 1942 on inhalation of vaporized propylene glycol in laboratory mice. A more in-depth article was printed in the 1942 issue of TIME Magazine for November 16th. "Dr. Robertson placed groups of mice in a chamber and sprayed its air first with propylene glycol, then with influenza virus. All the mice lived. Then he sprayed the chamber with virus alone. All the mice died."

The researchers also found that "the propylene glycol itself was a potent germicide. One part of glycol in 2,000,000 parts of air would--within a few seconds--kill concentrations of air-suspended pneumococci, streptococci and other bacteria numbering millions to the cubic foot."

Clinical trials on electronic cigarettes containing propylene glycol were carried out in New Zealand by Dr. Murray Laugeson of Health New Zealand and can be found on the website of SS Choice LLC at under the tab "Media Coverage." Far from posing a threat to our health, the propylene glycol in e cigarettes might just keep us healthy. Further studies should be done on the effects of propylene glycol to determine if it can be used successfully as a virus prevention tool. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the best flu preventative was right under our noses all this time?


SS Choice, LLC


  1. Janet Coverdale Janet Coverdale United States says:

    I have been using electronic cigarettes for almost 5 years.  The e-liquid I use is 80% propylene glycol and I have not had a cold or the flu for the entire time I've been using e-cigs.  I will bookmark this article.  Thanks for writing it!

  2. PG
    Patrick Robinson Patrick Robinson United States says:

    Some people have a slight sensitivity to PG due to it's profound air drying effect and the fact that 90% of people live in a state of mild chronic dehydration.  I vape 50/50 propylene glycol/vegetable glycerin because higher PG tends to irritate my throat and sinuses, still haven't been ill other than a little sinus irritation (5% of what I experienced from smoking for 40 years) since I started vaping.

  3. Patty Piazza Patty Piazza United States says:

    Don't let Big Pharma in on this news!  They'll bring in the lobbyists from their "colds and flu" division and a few more hundred million to up the fight!  If they become aware that they are not only losing the profits from over-priced, ineffective smoking cessation and cancer drugs but now also flu and pneumonia treatments, they'll lose their minds!

  4. Lene Thorsen Lene Thorsen Norway says:

    While the information about the 1942 study is correct it is unfortunate that this article redirects one of their links to an e-cigarette vendor. It takes the credibility out of the equation and makes it seem like nothing more then a marketing ploy. Shame.

  5. Howard Smith Howard Smith United States says:

    When someone starts using a e cigarettes around me it takes about five minutes before my asthma symptoms kick in. I also start getting a burning sensation in my throat, which other people have told me they experience too. I'm very sensitive but I just don't see how these products can't be harmful.

    • Roy Hufstetler Roy Hufstetler United States says:

      Howard. Do you use an asthma inhaler when your asthma kicks in? If so, I'm afraid you are inhaling propylene glycol. Do some research and you will find that PG is the base used in asthma inhalers. Does it make your asthma worse?

      It could however be the nicotine... but You must be invading their personal space. The vapor cloud from my E-Cig evaporates to nothing in the air very quickly. Its like steam from a pot of boiling water and it only extends about 2 feet from my own face. Unless you are in a VERY confined space with multiple people vaping, I would have to guess this is in your mind and not your nasal passages.

  6. Patti MacKay Patti MacKay Canada says:

    The government and doctors used to say cigarette smoking was good for you too.  I used to smoke cigarettes and never got sick so does that make them good for me?  I also do not see how inhaling chemicals can be healthy.

    • Pork Leaker Pork Leaker Canada says:

      It's not about them being healthy, it's the fact that they're a far safer alternative to analog cigarettes. When using an e-cig you're inhaling vaporized propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavorings. Now compare that to the over 4,000 in cigarettes (43 known carcinogens and 400 toxins) and tell me which is better? It's harm harm reduction. However, if there is any truth to the effects propylene glycol on bacteria and viruses, simply consider that an added benefit.

  7. Muhammad Wasim Ul Haq Muhammad Wasim Ul Haq Bangladesh says:

    Well all I can say that after 9 months of vaping, my heart rate has improved..from 120/80 to 110/70. That's a tangible data... Others like I can do better exercises, can climb stairs without choking are u can say my personal intangible findings... yes I did suffer from lung infection after one month of vaping. Vaping could be a reason so the air around me or some other things could also be responsible...I and u may never know... in the end I'm living a better and healthier life than my 1 and 1/2 a pack/ day smoking days

  8. Christopher Duguid Christopher Duguid Australia says:

    I was  10-15 cigarette smoker for 50 years. I quit and have been vaping for 18 months. My breathing has not improved in fact seems worse. I use 1.2% nicotine but vaping a lot more. Could I be getting more nicotine?

  9. Sommer Etzel Sommer Etzel United States says:

    Thought-provoking commentary - I learned a lot from the facts , Does anyone know where I might be able to get ahold of a sample a form example to type on ?

  10. Norbert Zillatron Norbert Zillatron Germany says:

    While the swine flu finally was just a lot of scary hot air, we now have to deal with a real pandemic.

    I wish somebody would study the effectiveness of PG vaping on COVID-19. Instead we get badgered with unfounded scaremongering "warnings" against vaping by clueless politicians.

    And I'm one of the overwhelming majority of long term vapers reporting a dramatic increase in health especially re respiratory infections. Some (including me) even have the impression that they get fewer infections than the average non-smoker.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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