E-cigarettes are a new product which was recently introduced into the market place and seems to be taking-off with the younger set. E-cigarettes were meant to replace the nicotine cravings that many people experience when they try to quit smoking. It’s been advertised as a “healthier alternative” to smoking. But is there anything healthy about them?
E-cigarettes are composed of a battery-operated chamber or cartridge filled with a liquid (propylene glycol or glycerin), an atomizer, and nicotine. There are many different types of e-cigarettes, some of which are rechargeable and some disposable. They are also products which are available in different flavors.
E-cigarettes produce a nicotine-enriched vapor which can be directly inhaled into the lungs. Each cartridge can contain enough draws as you would get in 20 cigarettes. Some of the advantages of e-cigarettes are that they don’t contain any chemicals, contaminants, heavy metals, or carbon monoxide. There is also no offending odor or second-hand smoke emitted from these products. The other advantage is that e-cigarettes deliver approximately the same dose of nicotine as does a conventional cigarette—so this can help smokers quit smoking.
The Problem with E-cigarettes
Most major health authorities are reluctant to deem these products as being safe and effective for smoking cessation. However, there are other groups who have endorsed them. For example, the World Health Organization, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and Health Canada currently do not endorse the use of e-cigarettes. However, Health New Zealand and the American Association of Public Health Physicians have said that e-cigarettes are safe and effective to help people quit smoking.
In some countries like Lebanon, Egypt, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Mexico, e-cigarettes are illegal.
The problem I have with this technology is the manner in which the product is currently being used, as opposed to how it was intended to be used. Proponents of e-cigarettes have suggested that these products offer a reasonable alternative to current nicotine delivery systems already in place but are safer and more effective at smoking cessation.
A bigger problem is that many people don’t use these products to help them quit smoking: instead many youth have started using these products, because they believe it’s safer or more desirable to conventional smoking.
My concern is that e-cigarettes will merely become a nicotine delivery system that younger smokers and newer smokers will use to get their nicotine dose without the intention to quit. In my opinion, that’s not what the goal of this product was and that’s not who it should be marketed to. If used properly, as a way to help people quit smoking, then it can be really beneficial.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Cahn, Z., et al., “Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: A step forward or a repeat of past mistakes?” Journal of Public Health Policy 2011; 32: 16–31.
Sutfin, E.L., et al., “Electronic cigarette use by college students,” Drug Alcohol Depend. June 7, 2013.
Dockrell, M., et al., “E-Cigarettes: Prevalence and Attitudes in Great Britain,” Nicotine Tob Res. May 23, 2013.