Traditional Cigarette Ingredients List vs E-Cigarette Ingredients

Traditional cigarettes contain some chemicals which are classified as poison. E-cigarettes use approximately four to five, most of which, individually, are FDA approved.

traditional cigarettes versus e-cigs

It’s no secret that smoking causes health problems. Heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, COPD and emphysema are all complications linked to the smoking of tobacco products. Even worse, cigarettes are highly addictive, so users often find it hard to quit in order to preserve their health, or to help them reverse existing smoking related health problems.


Ingredients Found in Conventional Cigarettes:

Tobacco products are full of chemicals and additives, both in the tobacco and in the paper that tobacco companies use. These chemicals are combined with those produced during combustion, which is required in order to burn the tobacco and papers.

While it would be impossible to list every chemical and ingredient used in cigarettes, as there are thousands of them (over 500 alone added by the tobacco companies themselves as ingredients), a few of the more common, and worrisome, ingredients found in cigarettes include:

  • Tobacco: This one is obvious, but cigarettes contain tobacco. Grown as a crop both domestically and in many other regions, it is used both in smokeless and smoked products. Tobacco adds flavor and is famous for its trademark taste. Tobacco also naturally contains nicotine, which is the stimulant which makes cigarettes so addictive.
  • Formaldehyde: This is also the chemical used to preserve dead bodies. According to the American Cancer Society, it may increase the risk of several cancers.
  • Arsenic: This is the primary ingredient in many rat poisons.
  • Lead: Most people know that high levels of lead are dangerous. NBC News reports that studies have shown that even small doses of lead are linked to heart attack and stroke.
  • Cyanide: This chemical works quickly and can be fatal. It is found in very small quantities in some foods, and is a chemical which is released during combustion. It has also been found as an addictive in cigarettes. Cyanide is poisonous, and is most dangerous when inhaled, according to the CDC.
  • Carbon Monoxide: This is a poisonous gas which can cause death when inhaled in large enough quantities, and illness when inhaled in smaller amounts. It is given off as a byproduct of burning tobacco products.
  • A lot of the e-cig brands are making the fact that their products do not contain carbon monoxide their unique selling point. Vapor cigarette brands like Mig Vapor are actually including word “vapor” in their name to highlight this fact.
  • Methoprene and DDT: Both are insecticides, the latter of which has been banned due to safety issues.

These are just a few of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Each of these chemicals are inhaled into the smoker’s lungs with every puff.

Ingredients in E-Cigarettes

E-cigs only contain approximately four ingredients in most cases. While the heating of these ingredients may lead to the formation of other compounds, very few chemicals have been found in e-cig vapor when compared to secondhand smoke from cigarettes.

The ingredients most commonly used in e-cigs include:

  • Vegetable Glycerin: This is the ingredient used to produce vapor.
  • Propylene Glycol: This additive gives e-cigs much of their “throat hit,” and it is generally recognized as safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Nicotine: Found naturally in tobacco leaves, nicotine is also added to most e-liquids. Nicotine is a stimulant, much like caffeine. Contrary to what many assume, nicotine is not a known carcinogen.
  • Flavoring: Most e-cig flavorings are derived from food sources. Malic acid, for instance, is what gives apples and some other fruits their tart flavor. Vanillin is also commonly used in sweeter e-liquids. Many flavorings have been approved as safe for consumption by the FDA.
  • Distilled Water: A sometimes fifth, but less common, ingredient found in some e-cigs is distilled water. This helps dilute some e-liquids and prevents buildup in atomizers. Its use is most common in liquids which only use vegetable glycerin without propylene glycol, as glycerin alone can lead to buildup.

The Bottom Line

Tobacco products have been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease and stroke. This is due in large part to the hundreds of chemicals produced by the combustion of burning tobacco, as well as dangerous cancer causing additives used by tobacco companies to enhance flavor and preserve taste. E-cigarettes, by comparison, do not produce smoke and contain only four or five simple ingredients in their e-liquids.

Published: January 29, 2015


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11 comments on “Traditional Cigarette Ingredients List vs E-Cigarette Ingredients

  • Tympany

    May 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Calling someone names when they ask a legitimate question makes you not only a moron, but a bully as well and on top of all that glory, you show yourself to be ignorant and a sheep … well done. I highly doubt from the context of your reply that you yourself possess the credentials to validate ANY of what you’ve said. Sounds more to me like you are reiterating what you have heard without any fact based reasoning. I was a smoker and i vape but at no time have i ever fooled myself into believing vaping was harmless. The real fact of the matter is that nobody really knows and while little mans reply was left a year and a half ago (apt name btw) they are now just releasing reports out of Japan regarding the amt of formaldehyde in some ejuice brands as well as the existence of other carcinogenics. … I make no claims as to specific amounts, i am not a scientist nor am I a researcher but i also don’t need to be to use common sense enough to know its not just about whats in the ejuice alone, its all about how these ingredients react with one another, how they break down once inhaled and how with dermal or oral exposure they become toxic and what happens to these when ingested over long periods. I am not interested in waving a banner for either side … I vape, I enjoy vaping – is it the lesser of two evils? I believe so, yes. I just hope Im not killing myself with a lesser of two evils. Unfortunately it takes many years to know the truth and a patient zero to expose the truth. Just think for yourself and dont give someone shit for asking a legitimate question or stating a possible inconvenient truth that you might not like hearing.


      June 3, 2018 at 10:39 am

      you are awesome Thank you for such an educated and well thought out answer

    • Kalyn Johnson

      July 23, 2018 at 11:50 am

      I think I’m in love. (JK). You exemplify everything people should be towards each other and I thank you you for your well thought out reply. I’m new to vaping and just wanted to see what was out there regarding the dangers of vaping verses smoking. I recently quit smoking not just for my health, but those around me too, ans wanted to get more info on what I’m putting into my body and potentially someone else’s. I know that vaping isn’t all good but it’s got to be a heck of a large step over smoking. After work weeks I have longer wind when I work out, and I can taste foods better than I have been able to in years. Thank you for your input on this subject.

    • Bekahflsu

      September 4, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      Great Response. Love it!

  • Chris Clark

    February 23, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Well said

  • Austin Wyczawski

    November 18, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Isn’t this incorrect because e-cigarettes have chemicals that are in food coloring, which can be dangerous to inhale? This information is hiding key ingredients used in electronic cigarettes which make them toxic to use continuously.

    • Little Man

      December 3, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Are you a moron or just plan dumb consider cigarettes has about 500 toxic in it and ejuice has about 1 or 2 depands where you get your juice from for one it’s a fact and been test that ecig is 91% to 95% safer than cigarettes so before saying anything make sure you have all your facts first hence what’s wrong now people and vaping people wants to say stuff when they have no clue or did any research just going on what other people say ect

      • josh

        March 27, 2018 at 6:14 pm

        Learn grammar…PLEASE

      • Bekah

        September 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        If you’re going to attack someone you might want to spell your words correctly.

    • Jim

      October 25, 2017 at 2:24 am

      Name some of them, their concentrations and their effects then. With sources.

      If you’re going to call something incorrect, that’s good. The world needs more of that. But you’re gonna have to prove it. Show me the goods.

    • donna butler

      November 25, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      are you a moron for not outweighing both sides first before you judge?? seriously?!! even if ecigs are bad for you?! they are STILL nowhere worse than proper cigs! do your research before you spout off! 😉