E-Cigarettes: A Healthy Tool or a Gateway Device?

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E-cigarettes do not make real smoke, yet they have ignited a firestorm of controversy. This battery-powered device which simulates tobacco smoking was first patented in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert and then later developed in 2004 by Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, to deliver a pure liquid solution of nicotine with minimal carcinogens. Nothing is burned; there is no ash and no smoke. Sounds great, right?

 Do not be so quick to jump on this ban wagon. There are absolutely no peer reviews or research studies concluding the safety of the E-cigarettes. In an interview with the Director of the Office on Smoking and Health for the CDC, they believe there is enough evidence to say that smoking E-cigarettes likely to be less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes. However, due to the lack of regulation and research, the CDC has issued health warnings. 

Public opinion on E-cigarettes are all over the place. I am prepared to share with you my view as a health care practitioner. 

E-cigarettes provide a valuable alternative purpose in smoking cessation…ONLY. They appear to provide smokers a safer means to quit than traditional pharmacotherapy. Unfortunately, currently there are NO studies that directly measured the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes in smoking cessation.

What we DO know is through the vapors of E-cigarettes, that there are less toxic effects to the body. You still get nicotine, which still makes E-cigarettes addictive. Also preliminary analysis by the FDA in 2009 identified some E-cigarettes have tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are known cancer-causing agents. Same as nicotine gum and inhalers…but what do the vapor fumes emit? No one knows! To say that “E-cigarettes do not expose the user, or others close by to harmful levels of cancer-causing agents and other dangerous chemicals associated with other tobacco products,” is extremely irresponsible because even the researchers do not know!

Overall, E-cigarettes appear to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but by no means are they safe. Any nicotine substance is highly addictive and harmful to the body, which brings me to my last comment. We must put an end to the marketing of E-cigarettes to our children, the largest user by age group. It is as blatant as the “Joe Cool Camel” back in the day. We all know that it took more than 40 years for us to stop cigarette smoking in the public spaces, knowing smoking cigarettes causes cancer. Please make us wait even a year to ban E–cigarettes and the unknown effects of the vapors to those around the user.

Let us try to be proactive for a change. To promote that E-cigarettes are safe, especially to our children, should be a crime. There is no research supporting this claim. In marketing, the tobacco industry spent $59 million in 2012. Most of this money was spent in GIVEAWAYS to our youth at festivals, music venues, parties and sporting competitions. How would you feel if a representative stood on a street in West Chester giving away cocaine? Really! Our children do not need more distractions to remain healthy and to stay away from addictive substances that may plague them the rest of their lives with disease.

In conclusion, please consult your physician prior to using an E-cigarette, thinking that because you don’t see smoke, it must be safe. I am prepared to not be near someone vaping an E-cigarette, so that I do not jeopardize myself or my loved ones until the research substantiate that it is safe.

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