Are Electronic Cigarettes safe? A Review
In 2012, around six million UK smokers made new year's resolutions to live a healthier life, they planned to do this by giving up smoking. Studies show, that in spite of all the good intentions, most smokers will fail to quit.
Smoking is both a chemical and a physical addiction, this makes quitting tobacco doubly hard to do. Although there are various avenues open to the smoker to help with quitting, most will continue to find the habit impossible to break whilst those who succeed, do so after several failed attempts.
There are several tools on the market that are designed to help smokers kick the habit, smoking cessation products includes; nicotine patches, gums, nasal sprays, inhalers and tablets, all of which have been available for years. There are numerous methods available to help the smoker, but to be successful, the strategies must address both the physical and the psychological addictions
Cigarettes contain large quantities of ammonia, arsenic and turpentine, it also contains formaldehyde, acetone, butane, lead and nickel to name but a few.
Between the 1930s through to the 1960s, cigarette smoking was the height of fashion; it was glamorized, every Hollywood movie star worth his or her salt was promoting the habit on and often off the silver screen.
These days we see less smoking on screen, when it does make an appearance it is usually as an integral part of a story line. Actors would often include smokers cough to imply the physical effects of long term smoking on the character's health.
The cigarette manufacturers had a history of getting placement for their product in Hollywood, until the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. By 1965, almost 50% of Americans were addicted to tobacco.
The World Health Organisation took an official stance against smoking in the 1970s and the rate began to drop to what is now around 21%.
The manufacturers of cigarettes were forced to list the content of their product on the package in 1998, and the general public became aware of the 4,000 chemicals that each and every cigarette containd.
For smokers who are looking for an alternative to tobacco and for those who have tried to quit the habit and failed, there is a product on the market that is growing in popularity, the e-cigarette.
The number of people using e-cigarettes in the UK is expected to reach a million this year, but is it safe; and does it do what it says on the tin?
According to Wikipedia, the electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, personal vaporizer or PV, is an electronic inhaler that vaporizes liquid solution into an aerosol mist to simulate the act of tobacco smoking.
The e-cigarette is classed as a general consumer product which is regulated by trading standards, meaning, i.e., it should not contain hazardous chemicals and batteries that are included in the device must meet EU standards.
The Trade Association for e-cigarettes explained that the product is sold only as an alternative to conventional cigarettes and that they are making no medical claim for their product.
The device is marketed as a smoking cessation aid, its physical design is generally similar in appearance to the conventional cigarette, but the device holds a battery, a vaporization chamber and a cartridge which is filled with liquid nicotine. The nicotine which happens to be highly addictive, is dissolved in a solution of water and propylene glycol.
When the smoker puffs or draw on the device as he would a regular cigarette, it heats the liquid, changing it into a nicotine vapour, the result is a sensation of smoke in the mouth and lungs without actually smoking.
The e-cigarette was first introduced to the US market in 2007 as an alternative to tobacco smoking. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but there is a mechanism that heats up the nicotine to transform it into vapour which the smoker inhale and exhale.
It is claimed that electronic cigarette could save hundreds of lives, conversely; some health experts calls the device a health risk.
The British Medical Association (BMA) believe that as more people use the device which replicates smoking behaviour, even without the tobacco, the more it will normalize what appears to be smoking. They are calling for the ban on smoking in public places to be extended to e-cigarettes.
The BMA would like to see;-
- A strong regulatory framework for the sale and use of e-cigarettes
- Assurance that the product is safe, quality assured and effective in helping smokers to cut down or quit the habit
- Restrict marketing, sale and promotion and only targeted at smokers, to quit or cut down their smoking
- Do not appeal to children and young people
- Prohibit the use in work and public places to reduce exposure to the second hand vapour that are exhaled by users
Health providers are advised to encourage their patients to use a regulated licensed nicotine replacement therapy to help quit smoking. However, where a patient is unable or unwilling to use an approved and tested nicotine replacement therapy, they may be advised, that while e-cigarettes are unregulated, and their safety cannot be assured, they are likely to be a lower risk than continuing to smoke.
The Benefits of e-cigarette
Study concluded that smoking e-cigarette alleviated the desire to smoke
Contain no tobacco and therefore no tar
Can be used in public places without breaking regulations
Smokers say they feel better using the device
Device is reusable
No need to use matches
Concern about E-cigarette
Side effects of inhaling pure nicotine not yet adequately studied. Consumers have no way of knowing how much nicotine is contained in individual product.
Active ingredients such as propylene glycol, although generally thought to be safe, when ingested as an additive in food, is not adequately studied, and not enough is known about the effects on the lungs when inhaled as a vapour.
It is feared that some manufacturers may not adequately disclose all the chemical ingredients in their e-cigarette, and the amount of nicotine listed on the label may not match the actual content.
- Nicotine, although not the harmful part of tobacco, is non-the-less addictive and is what 70 to 90% of smokers say is the reason they cannot stop smoking.
- E-cigarettes can be purchase without proof of age, since the product is not regulated.
- Experts fear the product can be harmful, and should be illegal until more research trials have been conducted.
The e-cigarette market is growIng fast, a survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggests 700,000 people in the UK were using e-cigarette last year, and the numbers are continuing to grow. While some medical expert are cautious, warning of possible side effects, others see huge potential benefits.
It is said that if all the smokers in Britain were to stop smoking conventional cigarettes and smoke instead, e-cigarettes, there could be 5 million less deaths in people who are alive now. Some critics believes that some of the advertisement for e-cigarettes are glamorizing what looks like smoking.
If you are inclined to try the e-cigarette, it would be wise to discuss it with you doctor or health provider before committing to purchasing a device. Always do the research and become familiar with the health concerns as well as the benefits, before making an informed decision. This is even more relevant for people with a history of conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Many large companies are facing a dilemma as they attempt to make policies on whether e-cigarettes should be used inside their promises. The argument for those who wish to see this product banned in public, is that other customers, employees or clients may feel uncomfortable with the use. Therefore; some e-cigarettes companies are recommendIng that smokers check before using the e-cigarette in public places and indoors.
More Stop Smoking Aids include:
Medications such as clonidine and Wellbutrin
- Hypnotherapy treatment
- Local quit smoking groups
Reports in UK news today 12/06/2013 claims, E-cigarettes are to be regulated due to reliability doubts about nicotine content. Promotion of e-cigarettes to non-smokers and children will be prohibited. Many smokers are choosing to use the e-cigarettes, ASH estimated 1.3 million smokers and ex-smokers were currently users in Spring of 2013.
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© 2013 Jo Alexis-Hagues
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