Eli Lake recounts his love affair with electronic cigarettes:
I could smoke when I wanted and I didn’t have to destroy my lungs, sinuses and circulatory system in the process. My clothes wouldn’t smell like a dive bar. I found the loophole, cheated cancer and rediscovered the pleasure of martinis. The added bonus with electronic cigarettes was I could smoke them anywhere. On freezing days, there was no need to huddle outside the office for four minutes to suck down my dose. I smoked on airplanes, in meetings and at restaurants. It was like a time machine to the golden age of smoking when there were ashtrays on elevators and in movie theaters.
He’s less sure of them now that he’s looked into the medical research:
Besides the nicotine, the other active ingredient in my cigarettes is propylene glycol, a substance the FDA classifies as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.” But there’s a catch. Most research about propylene glycol is about its effect when it’s ingested as an additive in food. Less is known about the effects of inhaling it as a vapor—dozens and
dozens of times a day. … Dr. Lowell Dale, the medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Tobacco Quitline, was far more incendiary. Propylene glycol as a liquid, he told me, is “similar to anti-freeze.”
He’s getting lots of pushback from defenders of e-cigs in the comments section.