E-cigarettes are an increasingly popular alternative to cigarettes, cigars and shisha. With their array of gadgets and flavors, more and more people are choosing e-cigarettes as a healthier option, and to help them stop smoking. But are these devices really better for you?
What is an E-Cigarette?
Electronic Cigarettes or Personal Electronic Evaporators are smoke-free alternatives to tobacco, or shisha. These devices, invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003, are battery-powered devices heat a primer that evaporates a solution called e-liquid or e-juice, which in turn produces a dense vapor. This vapor is comparable to smoke in terms of density, but has a pleasant smell that quickly disappears, unlike “normal” cigarette smoke. E-liquids are available with and without synthetic nicotine.
Because e-cigarettes offer a similar experience to traditional smoking, many people are using them to quit smoking. However, these devices are not guaranteed to help you quit, as some still contain nicotine.
E-cigarettes vs Traditional Cigarettes
- E-cigarettes not produce carbon dioxide and do not harm others through secondhand smoke.
- E-cigarettes can be used almost anywhere, even indoors.
- E-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than tobacco cigarettes.
- E-cigarettes are available without nicotine and the liquids come in many flavors (however, all are potentially damaging).
The Problem with E-Cigarettes
With their colorful accessories and abundance of flavors, e-cigarettes are attracting a new crowd to smoking. And while there may not be carbon dioxide and nicotine involved, a new study by the European Society of Cardiology shows that these vaporizers are far from harmless.
The study included habitual e-cigarette smokers (used for most days for at least one year) and found that they were more likely to have increased adrenaline levels in the heart, as well as increased oxidative stress—the same mechanisms by which tobacco cigarettes increase cardiovascular risk. This has critical implications for the long-term use of e-cigarettes. While this was a small study, researchers stated it warranted further investigation into the long-term effects of these new devices.
Another cause for concern is the chemicals found in e-liquids. A study by the American Thoracic Society found that the oxidant metals, glycerol vapor, flavoring compounds and nicotine found in e-cigarette vapor caused respiratory symptoms in 85% of users. Propylene glycol and glycerin, two solvents found in almost all e-liquids, turn into acrolein and formaldehyde when they are heated. These two chemicals have been linked to cancer.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, e-cigarettes may not be the perfect solution after all.
E-cigarettes are relatively new and their long-term health effects have not yet been observed. Some studies show that they may cause long-term health damage.
- Some brands contain ethyl alcohol, a substance found naturally in some fruits. There is a disagreement about the religious legitimacy of its use for non-therapeutic reasons.
- Some e-liquids contain nicotine, which is harmful to the human body.
- Because e-cigarettes do not leave an odor and are difficult to detect, they may be used in inappropriate places, for example in schools.
- Some cheaper brands are not well made, causing the e-liquid to leak. Swallowing these solutions can pose a serious health risk.
- There are no regulatory boards or manufacturing regulations to oversee the production of these devices, and some are sold online without known headquarters, which may make it easily accessible to children.
- May attract non-smokers to try, who later can easily become cigarette smokers.
- Some ingredients used in the production of e-liquids can oxidize and affect their plastic containers. These chemicals can then leach into the e-liquid and the vapor.
- E-cigarettes are battery-powered and there is a risk of battery explosion.
- Some e-liquid ingredients can cause allergic reactions.
- Propylene glycol (PG), which has low toxicology, is toxic and unsuitable for human use if the concentration is greater than 1 gram per liter. It can also dry the mouth and throat.
Preventing and Treating Smoking
- It is important not to encourage children to smoke, and to encourage smokers to quit.
- Awareness is one of the most important means of prevention, especially educating young people and students so that they do not try to smoke in the first place. We need to emphasize the invalidity of the link between smoking and maturity or modern conduct, and highlight the positive aspects of a life free from smoking rather than focusing on intimidation of its complications.
- It is also important to reach doctors, educators, nurses and pharmacists so they can spread the message, and to inform the public through the media.
- Emphasizing the importance of role models. Parents, teachers, doctors, celebrities and anyone who looks after children should abstain from smoking in front of them.
- Means of prevention include prohibiting smoking in public places, meeting rooms and ministries, restaurants, transport and public places.
- Filling leisure time with useful work, hobbies, and time with friends or family, and staying away from bad company.
- Clarifying the dangers of smoking—that responsibility lies largely with the media, which must take the message to the people and advise of the dangers of this habit on their health and finances.
If you’re looking to stop smoking, there are safe alternatives. Consult a specialist doctor or pop into the Smoking Cessation Clinic for advice.References