Even the most hardened smoker knows that it is dangerous to their health and yet cigarette smoking is so addictive that it is one of the most difficult habits to kick. If a smoker wants to quit, he or she deserves all the help and support we can give. And one of the most recent and popular ways is by using an electronic cigarette.
The term “vaping” has taken the place of “smoking” for those who have embraced this new lifestyle.
How does an e-cigarette work?
When a user “smokes” an e-cigarette, there are white puffs coming out of their nostrils just like smoking a real cigarette BUT there is no second-hand smoke, only flavored water vapor. These cigarettes don’t contain any tobacco but they can contain nicotine (which is still highly addictive) but which can be adjusted by the user to high, medium, low or zero.
That flavored water vapor can provide just about any taste under the sun including chocolate, mint, tobacco, apple and so many more. If they really want to, users can even get the flavor of their favorite brand of cigarettes! E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices filled with liquid nicotine that is dissolved in a solution of water and propylene glycol. Although many look like real cigarettes, they can be less conspicuous too.
Be wary of the source of e-cigarettes and accessories
Avoid any products that come from China as they will certainly be detrimental to your health. For example, their e-liquid is definitely non-organic and the primer liquid (the Chinese use in their atomizers) is full of harmful chemicals. The FDA has detected a potentially deadly antifreeze chemical called diethylene glycol in an electronic cigarette cartridge along with tobacco-specific nitrosamines (which are linked to cancer) while the contents of an aerosol from one leading manufacturer of electronic cigarettes was found to contain tin, copper, nickel, silver, silicate beads and nanoparticles.
Instead look for e-cigarettes minus the primer liquid and choose e-liquid from organic sources with vegetable glycerin and pharmaceutical grade nicotine to try and limit any harm.
E-liquids should be handled with care and stored out of the reach of children and animals, treating just as you would any household chemical.
So is the e-cigarette just another danger to a smoker's health?
The European Union is at the moment busy introducing the Tobacco Products Directive
into law which would severely limit the scope for smokers of real cigarettes to give up or cut down by switching to e-cigarettes.
At the same time, 15 prominent scientists (who have investigated the health consequences of electronic cigarettes) have accused European Union regulators of misinterpreting their results. The scientists say the EU's aim is to draft an unjustified new law to regulate e-cigarettes. In a letter to the EU, they say "If wisely regulated, e-cigarettes have the potential to make cigarettes obsolete and save millions of lives worldwide while excessive regulation, on the contrary, will perpetuate the existing levels of smoking related disease, death and health care costs.
" They point out that smoking currently kills 700,000 Europeans each year. I would add that, in the USA, one fifth of all deaths are caused by smoking.
So little agreement and much controversy here
As usual, everyone has a different opinion.
The British Medical Association for example say that longer trials are needed to learn more about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, adding that better regulation of e-cigarettes is essential because studies have shown that they are unreliable in the levels of nicotine they provide and there's a lack of evidence regarding their safety.
Nevertheless, there are lots of advantages to e-cigarettes
- No more second hand smoke for children and others around you. Children who breathe second hand smoke are more likely to suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases while second hand smoke also accounts for as many as 25% of cases of lung cancer in non-smokers.
- No more cigarette smoke odor on your clothes, your breath and your hair.
- No yellowing of the teeth.
- No more smelly car interiors.
- No more discarded cigarette ends, polluting the environment, invading your space and taking years to disintegrate.
- Less expense as an e-cigarette cartridge can last about 20 times longer than a standard tobacco cigarette with a probable 50% to 80% savings with the right e-cigarette.
- And of course the smoker's improved health on so many fronts.
Evidence suggests the use of e-cigarettes has helped smokers of all ages reduce or give up smoking by fighting cravings and coping with withdrawal symptoms. For some just the fact of having something in their hands was sufficient.
But there are disadvantages too
- The temptation to go for the highest level of nicotine. The high strength cartridge is said to have the nicotine equivalent of a regular cigarette but some have been found to exceed that.
- Along with the term “vaping”, there is a whole new vocabulary to learn!
- Users have to prepare in advance by charging a battery and, to enable the batteries to last all day, chargers are available that plug into household power, a car or your USB port on a computer - while carrying a back-up battery is also recommended.
- The concern some feel about “dust” they have seen from using the e-cigarette and the fear of particles being able to penetrate deep into the lungs. However, studies have found that the e-cigarette produces 880 times less particles than conventional cigarettes.
- According to the CDC’s 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2.8% of high school students tried e-cigarettes in 2012, compared to 1.5% in 2011. Was this a new trend or was it instead of starting conventional smoking? E-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and they are currently legal to sell to minors on a federal level although certain states and cities have already banned such sales.
My own thoughts are that for those who rely on smoking to relieve their mental anxiety or find it almost impossible to quit the smoking habit, changing to e-cigarettes can only be a good choice despite the possible risk.
Such risk could never be as great as conventional smoking.