Is vaping a useful tool for quitting smoking or just a new way of harming your health? Countries around the world are beginning to consider this question and India on Wednesday announced a total ban on the sale of e-cigarettes,However such legislation is running ahead of scientific research into the issue. So what do we know for sure about electronic cigarettes? What do e-cigarettes contain?Vaping consists of inhaling the vapour of a heated liquid inside e-cigarettes. That liquid normally contains nicotine, the highly addictive substance present in regular tobacco. Nicotine can effect brain development in the under-25s, according to some studies, and have a detrimental effect on adult brains.However the liquids vaped do not include a number of dangerous substances found in cigarettes, such as carcinogenic tar and carbon monoxide, which can be a factor in cardiovascular diseases. What e-cigarettes do contain are tiny particles which enter the lungs. There are “numerous potentially toxic substances,” according to a report published last year by the US National Academies of Sciences.Among these are metals such as nickel and lead, probably from the coil used to heat the liquid.There are also additives considered safe in the agro-food industry but linked to pulmonary problems in their vaporised form or simply not studied at all with regard to vaping.The different flavours offered by e-cigarette manufacturers include tobacco but also menthol, fruit, vanilla and even candy or creme brulee, some of which have led to accusations that they are aimed at youngsters.So is vaping dangerous?Researchers have little long-term perspective on the health issues of a product which has only been on the market since the mid-2000s.For those who move from cigarettes to vaping, the scientific consensus is that they have chosen a less toxic alternative. They still get their nicotine fix but carcinogenic substances present in cigarettes are no longer inhaled.“Even if it is difficult to quantify precisely the long-term toxicity of electronic cigarettes, there is evidence that it is significantly lower than traditional cigarettes,” the French Academy of Medicine opined in 2015.The World Health Organization has remained more cautious, saying that vaping is “probably less toxic” than smoking but that there was insufficient information to quantify the risks.