#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.
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.