Electronic cigarettes
American teenagers are smoking lesser cigarettes and marijuana, and are also drinking less compared to their predecessors. [Representational Image]Michael Dorausch/Flickr

Replacing the traditional cigarettes with electronic cigarettes can help reduce smoking -related deaths across the whole globe, a group of scientists revealed.

An electronic cigarette works by vaporising a liquid solution, containing nicotine and other flavours. Regular cigarettes contain about 4,000 toxic chemicals and have been linked to a wide range of diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.  However, the battery operated device has been viewed safer than the traditional cigarettes as they mostly provide less nicotine than the latter. 

Another advantage is the absence of tar (the dark, sticky and thick substance generated while burning tobacco) and carbon monoxide involved with smoking a real cigarette.  Tar can cause lung damage and carbon monoxide can reduce the oxygen levels in the body.

Re-confirming the safety of e-cigarettes, experts attending the E-Cigarette Summit at the Royal Society in London, Tuesday discussed how e-cigarettes can save millions of life claimed by tobacco smoking. 

Robert West, health psychology professor and Cancer Research UK director of tobacco studies said that the electronic cigarettes are 95 to 99 percent safer than the normal cigarettes and questioned the decision of several countries to ban them, website BDlive, reported. 

Jacques Le Houezec, a French tobacco dependence consultant said that the electronic cigarettes are nine to 450 times less toxic than the regular ones. The conference also highlighted the role of e-cigarettes in helping people ro stop smoking. However, concerns were raised about the threats posed to the rapidly growing e-cigarettes market. 

Deborah Arnott from the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said:  "Ash thinks that e-cigarettes have significant potential. They are a lot less harmful than smoking. Clearly smokers find them attractive, primarily as a way of quitting and moving away from smoking, which they know will kill them." "The tobacco companies are moving in. For them it's potentially a 'Kodak moment' because if everyone moved to e-cigarettes, they'd lose their market, so they've got to be in there. A lot of the bigger e-cigarette companies have already been bought up."

Electronic cigarettes were invented by a Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. The device, manufactured by a company named Ruyan first hit the Chinese markets in May 2004.  The device reached Indian markets in 2011.

Though e-cigarettes are considered to be safer than normal cigarettes, they are not fully free from concerns. Reports show that like the second-hand smoke associated with cigarettes, the e-cigarettes produce second-hand vapour. While the companies claim that they are harmless, some complaints related to the e-cigarettes point out that the vapour released from the e-cigarettes can irritate the eyes, nose and throat.