E-cigarettes are rapidly growing in popularity all over the UK, and obviously the increasing number of e-cigarette smokers might cause non-smokers and concerned parents to wonder whether or not these devices are safe. Second-hand tobacco smoke has been linked to the development of cancer and other illnesses, so smoke-conscious parents are rightly quick to keep their kids as far away from tobacco smoke as possible. Since e-cigarettes can be used in almost all public areas, naturally a few questions have arisen. So are e-cigarettes safe to smoke around children?

What you should know about e-cigarettes

Aside from their appearance, e-cigarettes are entirely different to tobacco cigarettes. In fact, they do not use tobacco at all. The 'smoke' that you see with an e-cigarette is not actually smoke at all. It is a mist that is produced by a battery powered atomiser built into the e-cigarette. This mist is created from a liquid that usually contains small amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol, flavouring, and water. The atomiser turns this liquid into a mist that can be inhaled through the e-cigarette's mouthpiece, thus aiding in the simulation of real smoking.

All studies to date have shown that e-cigarette vapour poses no significant danger to users or to the people around them,including children. While tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals and dozens of carcinogens, the e-cigarette "smoke" is nothing more than a soft vapour containing a tiny amount of nicotine particles, propylene glycol and flavouring. Knowing this, parents should at least encourage the tobacco smokers in their lives to use e-cigarettes instead of tobacco cigarettes in any area where children are present. This will effectively elliminate the possibility that your kids might be harmed from the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.

Where can they be bought?

E-cigarettes were initially designed by a Chinese inventor, and then released onto the international market as they became increasingly popular. Nowadays, e-cigarettes are more available than ever before, and you can buy them directly from online retailers as well as some commercial tobacco stores and chemists. There are a lot of different designs available to choose as well, so if you are a fan of a particular style or colour, chances are you will be able to find an electronic cigarette that matches your personal preferences. Try looking through an online store and you should soon find something that appeals, without too much effort.

So Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

Whilst e-cigarettes cannot be considered 'harmless' (as they contain nicotine which is both addictive and a stimulant), all studies to date have shown that smoking (or vaping) with an e-cigarette is many orders of magnitude safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.

A January 2013 report by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) talked about the second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes, and said, "Although e-cigarettes do not produce smoke, users exhale a smoke-like vapour which consists largely of water. Any health risks of second-hand exposure to propylene glycol vapour are likely to be limited to irritation of the throat. One study exposed animals to propylene glycol for 12 to 18 months, at doses 50 to 700 times the level the animal could absorb through inhalation. Compared to animals living in normal room atmosphere, no localised or generalised irritation was found and kidney, liver, spleen and bone marrow were all found to be normal