Smoking leads to the occurrence and development of a variety of diseases. Most importantly, it is an independent risk factor of cardiovascular atherosclerosis. In recent years, electronic cigarettes have become a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes, since modern micro-electronic techniques provide the possibility of simulating the process of traditional smoking. Additionally, it is convenient and fashionable. Nevertheless, comments about the safety of electronic cigarettes remain controversial. Although the research about electronic cigarettes increased exponentially, there has been no systematic study of its safety. The aim of the current study is to review the literature reports about the safety of electronic cigarettes, and to understand their hazards and disadvantages. It was found that most of the current research about electronic cigarettes comprises short-term and in vitro studies. There are few reports of in vivo and long-term studies. Notably, the level of harmful components such as volatile organic compounds, tobacco-specific nitrosamines and heavy metals in electronic cigarettes are even higher than in traditional cigarettes. Therefore, the harm of electronic cigarettes should not be underestimated. In conclusion, the question of whether electronic cigarettes are a safe and sufficient substitute for traditional smoking needs further investigation.
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