Electronic Cigarettes – A New Threat?

#E-Cigarettes Electronic Cigarettes, or E-Cigarettes, are one of the hottest new items hitting smoke shops, big cities, and online shopping sites. These products claim to be a safer alternative to smoking and possibly even a tool to use to quit smoking altogether.  They may also be targeted toward non-smokers and children, and may even be dangerous to the user and those around them. Being relatively new, these vaporizers are already creating problems for people with concern to laws involving buying, selling, and using and there is little good research on the health benefits/dangers.ecig 1

The device was first introduced in China in May 2004 and received international patent in 2007. As of 2011, in the United States, one in five adults who smoke have tried electronic cigarettes and several e-cigarette models are marketed and owned by big tobacco companies.

The idea is simple, rather than burning a traditional cigarette and inhaling the smoke, burnt tobacco and paper, nicotine, and all the many chemicals and toxins; E-ciggs claim to allow a person to choose a level of nicotine (a stimulant which acts much like caffeine but is much more addictive) in liquid form. They can choose a flavor they like, and then use a small heating element to create moist air vapor which delivers the nicotine to the user without side stream smoke or many of the health concerns of smoking.

The liquid, also called “Juice” or “E-Juice,” comes in nearly any flavor you can imagine from Tobacco to Caramel Macchiato and, alarmingly, in many “child friendly” flavors such as: Cheesecake, Cinnamon Roll, Bubblegum, and of course, Chocolate.  It also supposedly comes in levels of nicotine to allow the user more control. This should not be considered a safe feature however; studies from Davis County Health Department found that two of the nine companies they tested had amounts of nicotine in Juice labeled nicotine free, and more alarmingly found that there was nearly always more nicotine (in one case 233% more) in the product than was advertised on the label. For this reason, many are saying this is NOT an effective way to reduce smoking and may even lead to further addiction and worse withdrawal symptoms.

E-Cigarettes pose many dangers despite being marketed as a safe alternative to smoking. Among these dangers are: marketability to children, high availability to adults compared to standard cigarettes, and perceived safety without proof.

Currently, e-ciggs are NOT taxed at the same rate as other tobacco products, making them much more affordable to youth and the general public. People are also allowed to “test” flavors before buying in some outlets causing concern for addiction in non-users. One can only imagine the outcry if stores tried this with real cigarettes. Many outlets also do not see this as a tobacco product and are not ID-ing youth before selling them supplies.

They are also being called an alternative to smoking or even a smoking cessation tool. E-CIGGARETTES ARE NOT considered a cessation tool by the FDA and many preliminary studies are showing people using this product to supplement their smoking habit while others who do not smoke see it as a safe alternative and are becoming addicted to the nicotine. One study has come out of New Zealand showing it to be as effective as the patch. The problem with this conclusion is that the patch works as a slow step down in Nicotine levels. As we explored earlier, nicotine levels are NOT being well regulated or correctly labeled. Trying to step down and then getting a burst of Nicotine at a much higher rate would work like a slot machine jackpot for a gamblers addiction. Until the FDA can regulate the Juice this is not a good cessation tool.

A government analysis of the vapor found carcinogens and toxic chemicals as well as trace amounts of nicotine. There is not enough evidence to prove how dangerous these levels are, but they do exist.

The legal implications of these products are also just beginning to surface. At this time, the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act includes the use of E-Cigarettes. You can’t “vape” anywhere you can’t smoke. These products are not toys and you must be at least 19 years old to use or possess them.

Remember many of these companies are being bought and run by big tobacco. If you think about it, they don’t have a reputation of putting concern for youth or the health of their customers above money. I don’t think we are seeing an exception here.ecig 2


About michaelkjohnson

I have been working here at Youth Services since 2008. I started working with the little kids at Christmas Box House and now supervise the Outreach and Drug Prevention team. When not busy runing around the valley and spreading the word about what we do around here I am found playing at the park with my dog, camping, or planning my next jet-setting adventure
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5 Responses to Electronic Cigarettes – A New Threat?

  1. ANONYMOUS says:

    In all honesty do your own research I was a smoker of traditional cigarettes and successfully quit with the e cigs feeling tons better. they are not owned by big tobacco company’s once again research they are not being sold to underage kids.(Or at least shouldnt be). I have gradually tapered myself down to nearly nothing but flavor i make my own juice as well and the ingredients are in your day to day juices you buy from the store other than the nicotine and your average mtn dew, pepsi or coke look up the ingredients and see what harm that truly does to your body how about the gmos they are putting in our food. Or the fluoride they put in our water truly im not asking you to believe my word as gospel but DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.

    • michaelkjohnson says:

      I assure you, we are on top of all the latest research coming out and will change our minds if science, rather than opinion, proves otherwise. Unfortunately individual case studies or persons experience is not generalizable to the entire population. I am excited that it worked for you, but it is NOT FDA approved as a smoking cessation tool currently. It is, however, proven that the amount of nicotine in many juice brands are not accurate and are not regulated by any US government entity. As to the big tobacco company’s remark, I would refer you to http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/marketing-and-media/tobacco-manufacturer-lorillard-buys-electronic-cigarette-company
      which shows the same company that makes Kent, True, Maverick, Newport and Old Gold brand now own Blue Ecigs. One of the largest and most advertised E-Cigg brands. As to the danger of ingredients in Mt Dew etc, I am not arguing those are healthy for a person. That is a different topic for a different day.

    • sho2dapan says:

      I Fully agree with you and am on my way to Zero nic as well. I am quite wet behind the ears yet so DIY juice is not on the table yet but I can see where it will be…I thank you for the Post and I am Doing research and Being involved in the Community as best I can…

  2. sho2dapan says:

    I urge you to Please look at CASAA.org and SFATA.org and maybe ask a Vaper before you take the above as the Honest Truth…From Experience E-cig s Are an Alternative to Smoking and I am Not alone…Google a bit.

    • michaelkjohnson says:

      sho2dapan – Thank you for your reply. I assure you I am trying to follow a new trend in substance use as closely as possible. While the research has been slow coming it is starting to surface now. I have looked at both websites you recommended I will say, check your sources! SFATA’s president is an attorney who’s clients are creators and distributors of E-Ciggs and the Vice President works for the National Tobacco Company, a Kentucky-based manufacturer and distributor of tobacco products. I would be wary of any conflicts of interest which might exist. CASAA seemed a better site, but CASAA formed in 2009 by members of an online forum as an advocacy group to raise awareness and protect our right to access reduced harm alternatives. Note, not harm-free but REDUCED harm to current consumers of tobacco. The issue arises when current consumers are using near current non-consumers.

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