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The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Cigarettes

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Many longtime smokers were happy to see e-cigarettes appear on the market. The buzz was that these vaping devices could be purchased for assisting individuals who were attempting to give up smoking real cigarettes. The hype was that these faux tobacco gizmos were available with no added nicotine or other harmful chemicals, and that was music to the ears of lifelong smokers. 

Did the e-cigarettes live up to the advertising claims that made them so attractive?
Let’s take a look.

The Good News

  • When the vaping devices first appeared on the scene, the idea was to give smokers the opportunity to smoke in public arenas. The manufacturers explained that the vapor smoke was not harmful to others in the same room where the person is smoking the e-cigarette.
  • The vaping tool makers touted the fact that the vapor coming out of the device was not as invasive as cigarette smoke and the flavors of the vaping oil were often aromatic, not annoying.
  • Smokers who wanted to stop smoking cigarettes felt that e-cigarettes were the answer to breaking their addiction to tobacco products.

The Bad News

E-cigarettes have their own inherent risks, according to the US National Division of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, including:

  • There is a wide variation in the products that deliver the vapor and the ingredients in the vaping oil.
  • Little evidence exists that the devices are capable of providing assistance for smoking cessation.
  • Doctors must tailor their discussion with patients who use the devices to determine whether other smoking cessation techniques, such as pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapy, are safer.
  • E-cigarette companies have been required to submit consumer information such as ingredients, just last month (February 2018).
  • Standard e-cigarettes contain nicotine, propylene glycol, and glycerine, which seem harmless but may not have been checked for quality control.
  • In 2014, the FDA found “detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.”
  • The American Lung Association stated that “the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless, and can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.” This means the vapor emitted from an e-cigarette is possibly a toxin that could affect bystanders.

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The Ugly News

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated, within the last two years (2016-2017) that nicotine has ” a negative impact on the brain.” The scientists continued by explaining “the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure” are a target. Additionally, once a user has become addicted, the withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • depression
  • attention and cognitive deficits
  • irritability
  • craving
  • anxiety
  • increased appetite
  • sleep disturbances

The Electronic Cigarette Consumer Reviews (ECCR) notes that nicotine levels in these devices can contain levels of nicotine in the same amount as found in an entire pack of tobacco cigarettes. ECCR cautions “if you don’t know the nicotine level of an e-cig, don’t buy it. Some retail e-cigarettes have very high nicotine levels.”

The market is currently overflowing with e-cig choices as there are over 460 different e-cigarette brands. The devices being used are produced in the following forms:

  • vape pens
  • hookah pens
  • e-hookahs
  • vapes
  • mods ( powerful, customized vaporizers)
  • e-cigarettes
  • pipes
  • other unusual mediums

US teens are a strong consumer base for these products. The devices appeal to this demographic because they are available, advertised alluringly, come in flavors, and are sold under the assumption that vapor mediums are safer than tobacco cigarettes. Some of the teen-related risks are:

  • the possibility of “dripping,” the inhalation of vapors dropped directly onto heated atomizer coils
  • using e-cigs as an introductory practice to use other tobacco products that can lead to disease and premature death
  • potential brain development risks
  • nicotine addiction, or stronger more pleasurable drug addiction
  • mood disorders
  • impulse-control problems

At this time, the FDA has put in place a regulation that prohibits minors from purchasing e-cigarettes in stores or online. The association also regulates the production, importing, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of e-cigarettes, components, and parts.

Annelise Driscoll, writing for Nokia Health advises her readers to: “Do your research, and ignore the big tobacco company advertisements – it’s all just smoke and mirrors”.

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