Electronic Cigarettes: Are they any better for your health?
If you’re a smoker looking to quit, electronic cigarettes may look to be the perfect panacea; providing the familiar look and feel of a cigarette without the drawbacks of tobacco. Understanding how accurate this viewpoint is, however, is the question you should ask yourself, and given the product’s lack of real history in the marketplace, getting a conclusive answer will take time. The best approach, then, is to get the facts as they exist now, so you can make as informed a decision as is possible. We’d like to help.
What We Know Now:
The best air for your lungs is clean air. Perhaps Dr. Tim McAfee, of the Center For Disease Control, says it best: “We have to rely on what we know of toxicology, that what comes out of e-cigarettes is less toxic, but it’s more toxic than breathing clean air.
We don’t want our kids smoking. While electronic cigarettes can be purchased without nicotine, most still contain this addictive chemical compound. Candy flavored “vapors” as they’re known, and “skins” that allow consumers to change the look of an e-cigarette have raised concern that these products are being marketed to children. As a result, since there is no federal age restriction on the purchase of e-cigarettes, nearly every state in the union has passed their own laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
E-cigarettes can play a part in smoking cessation programs. Electronic cigarettes have only been on the market for 10 years, so research studies surrounding their efficacy in helping people quit smoking are not large in number. That said, the research is promising when compared to traditional cessation products such as nicotine patches.
We need more research. One difficulty in understanding the benefits, or potential harm, of e-cigarettes lies in the diversity of the product. Because it is unregulated, and hundreds of companies manufacture these products (including major tobacco companies), there is currently no adequate way to measure their composition, nor effects. There are just too many variables. For that reason, the attorneys general from 40 states each signed a single letter to the FDA in September of 2013 requesting oversight of the products. Further research is indeed the key to clarifying the debate around e-cigarettes.
As it is with any contentious discussion, particularly one centered on smoking, there are many differences of opinion. Whatever your personal viewpoint, please do your research and understand the risks. As the old saying goes: “Caveat emptor.”