The promises and threats of e-cigarettes

March 18, 2009 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

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Can cigarettes ever be healthy? The manufacturers and distributors of e-cigarettes claim that this latest import from China called “e-cig” is the healthiest alternative to real cigarettes that you can ever have. It is said to have the following advantages (Source: The official site of electronic cigarette smoking):

  • E-cig has no fire, no tar, no carbon monoxide, no ash, no stub. The CEO of Smoking Everywhere tells CNN that e-cig does not contain any of the substances that cause cancer.
  • It lets you enjoy those tactile taste sensations without the risks associated with smoking and tobacco.
  • You can smoke e-cig without polluting the environment or passing on second hand smoke, thus circumventing the anti-smoking bans in bars and restaurants.
  • It can help you to quit nicotine without giving up the smoking habits.” It supposedly works just like a nicotine patch does but with the satisfaction of the oral fixation.
  • E-cig even comes in different colors and different flavours.

Many people however are wary and sceptical about the product for the following reasons:

  • E-cig hasn’t been tested on humans and no safety data, short-term as well as long-term are available. The claims of manufacturers of e-cig being safe and healthy are actually not supported by scientific evidence.
  • E-cigs come in no less than 30 different flavours ranging from strawberry to chocolate to peppermint. The candy-like falors can be confusing for children especially those that do not resemble cigarettes and can prove lethal when ingested. It can also send the wrong message to adolescents, luring them to try “healthy smoking.”
  • It puts to test current smoking legislations in place, from anti-smoking bans to minimum age limit or purchase and possession of cigarettes.
  • Its claims of helping people to quit smoking are suspect. In fact, it can actually worsen the nicotine habit.

How does an e-cig work?

Basically an e-cig consists of 3 parts: an atomization chamber, a nicotine cartridge (the mouthpiece), and a lithium battery. When it is turned on, the tip of e-cig glows, the liquid nicotine is vaporized with propylene glycol and the vapour is released at the other end into the smoker’s mouth.

What do the health authorities have to say?

In September last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) ordered that unproven therapy claims of e-cigs should be stopped. “The electronic cigarette is not a proven nicotine replacement therapy.” Some countries have declared e-cigs as illegal.

Currently, the US FDA is “hazy” about e-cigs, according to CNN. The regulatory body is not sure how to classify e-cig – as a device or as a drug. “The FDA is trying to halt importation of e-cigs, but isn’t seizing products already being sold in the United States“, says CNN.


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3 Responses to “The promises and threats of e-cigarettes”
  1. Sammy says:

    Ok, all I want to know is if e-cigs can be potentially harmful to your health. I dont care about the stubs and the ashes! I want to know if its going to kill me!

  2. HART (1-800-HART) says:

    There was a CBC Newsreport about this topic today:

    U.S. senator seeks to ban electronic cigarettes pending more research

  3. I am one of those who began using an e-cigarette about 1 month ago. As a regular smoker, I was going through about 16 packs a week. After 1 month, I am down to about 2 packs per week and dropping steadily. I find that the e-cigarette is “weaning” me off of my smoking habit. It is wonderful. After smoking for over 40 years and trying every single product, seminar, and tool to stop—this is the first time I have hope. I think that the FDA should not rush to judgment. There is just as much evidence that this is a miracle, as there is evidence it is excessively dangerous. Perhaps regulation is in order, and certainly solid research–but a total ban might be the worst thing they could do for all of those smokers out there like me.

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