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Despite the Alarming Studies, E-Cigarettes Are a Win for Public Health

There has been all sorts of bad news about e-cigarettes this month.

The electronic smoking alternatives — at least according to recent headlines —  may cause cancer, lead teenagers into a lifetime of nicotine addiction and don’t help smokers quit. Predictably, politicians are again demanding that something be done to protect the public from the proliferation of electronic cigarettes.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced on Monday that they want to restrict e-cigarette marketing and limit the flavors of nicotine e-liquid available to consumers. According to Durbin, the regulations are meant to discourage e-cigarette use among children because it is  “ … a candy-flavored addiction, which is dangerous to our young people … and sadly poses serious public health threats.”

E-cigarette critics have been making this assertion for nearly a decade. They were wrong then because we had no evidence one way or the other, and they’re wrong now because the evidence we’ve gathered contradicts their claims. Put simply, Durbin and Waxman with the help of the media are misleading the public about e-cigarettes, who’s using them and how safe they are.

E-cigarette use has exploded in recent years. As a result, so has the research investigating how the smoking alternatives affect human health. Going back to 2011, we’ve had clinical evidencethat smokers who switch to e-cigarettes are able to quit tobacco entirely, and do so with few or no side effects, and that’s very likely because the chemicals in e-cigarettes are not dangerous.

Today it’s the same story. A study published this month by researchers in England found that smoking cessation in the country has increased significantly right along with the growth of e-cigarette use. The result doesn’t necessarily prove that e-cigarettes caused the decline in smoking, but as the study’s authors concluded, the “Evidence conflicts with the view that electronic cigarettes are undermining tobacco control … and they may be contributing to a reduction in smoking prevalence through increased success at quitting smoking.”

Other studies from Europe have yielded even more impressive results, with one Frenchsurvey (English summary available here) finding that e-cigarettes may have helped 1% of the France’s population quit smoking.

These studies are important because they demonstrate the effectiveness of e-cigarettes. But they’re even more important because they provide solid evidence that smokers — people already addicted to nicotine — are using the devices to quit; children are not using e-cigarettes to develop a nicotine addiction. You may see contrary stories in the news, but the suggestion that kids are taking up e-cigarettes is based on nothing more than badlymisinterpreted CDC statistics, released in 2013. Moreover, a study published just a week after the CDC data found that e-cigarette use among teenagers is very low, and the teens who had tried e-cigarettes were already smokers.

Durbin, Waxman and other critics will undoubtedly continue to cry foul about advertising aimed at children, but the growing body of evidence about e-cigarette use renders their complaints moot. If e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing their products to kids, they sure suck at it, as the numbers above illustrate. But that’s assuming the manufacturers are targeting children, and several major e-cigarette brands have successfully argued in court that they are not. In response to these new proposed rules, six manufacturers also said they would favor a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors.

That brings us to an important point: Nobody involved in this debate is against sensible regulations. It’s perfectly reasonable to put an age restriction on the sale of e-cigarettes, butmisrepresenting the evidence and demonizing a life-saving product in the process is not only unnecessary but shameful. As cigarette consumption both around the world and in the United States continues to drop, we should acknowledge that the growing popularity of e-cigarettes is a massive win for public health.

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The Pros and Cons of E-Cigarettes Is the Electronic Cigarette a Safe Stop Smoking Aid?

The Upside to E-Cigarettes

Unlike tobacco products, there are no current laws in effect prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places. Case in point, I work in a hospital and a fellow nurse smokes them right there in the nursing station.

Here’s what current research says about the positive aspects of this product:

  • In a study of 40 tobacco-dependent smokers, researchers concluded that smoking e-cigarettes alleviated the desire to smoke (after abstaining from smoking overnight), was well-tolerated, and pharmacologically more like a Nicorette inhaler than tobacco.
  • Another study of 50 smokers who wanted to reduce the health risks associated with smoking, but not quit completely, concluded that the Eclipse brand of e-cigarettes dramatically decreased the consumption of cigarettes without causing withdrawal symptoms. In addition, when participants smoked Eclipse, the nicotine concentrations in their blood remained fairly stable and their desire to quit altogether remained intact. However, the study concluded that because the Eclipse increased carbon monoxide concentrations in the blood, it may not be a safer choice of cigarette. On the other hand, it caused few, significant adverse events.
  • In a case study series, the e-cigarette was found to help three study participants — who all had a documented history of repeated failed attempts at smoking cessation using professional smoking cessation assistance methods — quit smoking and remain abstinent for at least 6 months.
  • During an online survey conducted in 2010, researchers polled visitors of websites and discussion forums dedicated to the use of the e-cigarette and smoking cessation. Of the 3,587 participants, 70% were former smokers, 61% were men, and the median age was 41 years. On average, participants used the e-cigarette for approximately 3 months, drew 120 puffs/day, and used 5 cartridges/day. Almost all of them used cartridges that contained nicotine. Ninety-six percent said that the e-cigarette helped them quit smoking, while 92% said that it made them smoke less. A majority of the participants said the e-cigarette helped them fight cravings, cope with withdrawal symptoms, and avoid relapsing on cigarettes.

The Downside of E-Cigarettes

If you are a savvy consumer, both positive and negative aspects of the the product you are considering should be scrutinized before you purchase it. The e-cigarette is no exception. Take a look at what some of the research says about the negative aspects of the e-cigarette:

  • A 2010 research paper published in Tobacco Control suggests that the e-cigarette lacks important regulatory factors, such as essential health warnings, proper labeling, clear instructions on how to use them, and safe disposal methods. The authors of the study also found that some of the e-cigarette cartridges leaked, which could cause toxic exposure to nicotine.
  • A study published in the December 2011 issue of CHEST found that the e-cigarette caused acute pulmonary effects after smoking it for only five minutes, although study authors pointed out that these effects may not be of clinical significance. During the study, 40 healthy non-smokers (30 experimental/10 control) were asked to smoke the e-cigarette ad lib for five minutes. The experimental group used the e-cigarette with the nicotine cartridge in place, while the control group smoked it with the nicotine cartridge removed.After five minutes, lung function was assessed using a variety of tests. Results showed that smoking the device for just five minutes caused an increase in impedance, peripheral airway flow resistance, and oxidative stress in the lungs of healthy smokers (smokers who are not diagnosed with lung disease or chronic health conditions.) They also pointed out that the study only measured results from smoking the e-cigarette for five minutes — because the average consumer is likely to smoke the e-cigarette many times a day, this might increase the risks. However, the authors suggested that it is possible that if the e-cigarette were used as a short-term bridge to smoking cessation, the benefits might outweigh the risks.
  • On their website, the FDA states that states that “E-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans, and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe.” They also suggest that because e-cigarette manufacturers are not required to submit clinical study data to them, the public has no way of knowing “whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals are found in these products, or how much nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.” The FDA is also concerned that the marketing efforts of e-cigarettes may increase addiction to nicotine, especially in young people, encouraging them to experiment with real tobacco products.

The Best Way To Quit Smoking

How you choose to quit smoking is a matter of personal choice. The best method is the one that works for you. With this in mind, doing whatever it takes to be successful — and safe — is how many people ultimately approach it.

Consult your health care provider about different stop smoking aids, including nicotine replacement therapy, quit smoking medications such as Clonidine and Wellbutrin, quit smoking support groups, and educational materials.

If you decide to try the e-cigarette, be sure to discuss this with your doctor and do your homework. Understand the pros, cons, and safety concerns, and then make an informed decision. The most important thing to remember is, no matter how you do it, you are making the best decision of your life when you finally decide to quit smoking, especially if you have COPD.

If you’re interested in purchasing an e-cigarette starter kit, compare prices here.

 

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Cigarettes

Smokers around the world enjoy their traditional tobacco cigarettes because it delivers a rich and satisfying experience regardless of the apparent risks. It’s been scientifically proven that prolonged use of traditional tobacco cigarettes can cause a plethora of health conditions ranging from arrhythmia, to deadly respiratory diseases, cancer, and even premature death. Many who try to quit tobacco smoking come to find that their cessation methods are hard to cope with leading to an agonizing withdrawal period in which some smokers come to the realization that they can’t live without smoking tobacco.

The electronic cigarette aims to solve this problem by giving smokers an alternative means of enjoying a tobacco cigarette without actually having to smoke one. Many may be skeptical by the claim that rechargeable electronic cigarettes can replace traditional tobacco but these devices are known to garner critical acclaim for their ability to deliver an uncompromising experience that rivals their conventional counterpart. Below, we’ve taken a look at the advantages and disadvantages that come with electronic cigarettes. Read on to find out more!

What Makes An Electronic Cigarette?

Typically, an electronic cigarette is made up of just three simple components:

Battery

Electronic cigarette manufacturers utilize a rechargeable lithium ion battery. These versatile batteries are used in many electronic products ranging from digital cameras to mobile phones. Smoke Stik, for instance, sells these batteries at an extended charge. These batteries power an electronic cigarette by powering the atomizer of the entire device. When the atomizer is triggered, it vaporizes the nicotine solution. Most electronic cigarette batteries currently on the market today are automatic and are designed to mimic the feel of smoking a traditional cigarette by powering on through one puff or turning off after a period of inactivity. 

Atomizer

The atomizer is the device that is attached to the end of the battery that functions as the main heating element. As explained above, when the battery is powered on, the atomizer (once triggerd) vaporizes the nicotine solution into a fine mist of water vapor inhaled through the mouthpiece.

Cartridge

The cartridge is the storage component of the electronic cigarette which is essentially a liquid reservoir. In the cartridge, nicotine and a propylene glycol solution are mixed together to form an e-Liquid that is vaporized by the atomizer when the user simply inhales on the mouthpiece.

Cartomizer

Three piece electronic cigarettes feature an atomizer and flavor cartridge separately but newer two piece devices combine these two units into one component and are typically bigger than conventional three-piece flavor cartridges leading to a greater abundance of e-Liquid

E-Liquid

E-Liquid (or eJuice) is basically a simple composition of nicotine and flavoring. E-Liquid is used by an electronic cigarette to simulate the smoke one would find in tobacco cigarettes. The comparable throat hit and sensation have many smokers doing a double take when they realize that the only chemical components of e-Liquid are nicotine, food-grade propylene glycol (or vegetable glycerin), and flavoring. E-Liquid comes in a variety of nicotine strengths and flavors ranging from traditional tobacco flavors (without the tobacco, of course) and novelty flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and even cola.


Advantages of Using An Electronic Cigarette

There are a number of benefits to using an electronic cigarette over a traditional tobacco cigarette including:

A Lack of tar, ash, and smell

Electronic cigarettes, unlike tobacco products utilize e-Liquid for operation in lieu of tobacco and leaves. Electronic cigarettes, therefore, fail to have the ashy residue that comes with traditional tobacco but also fail to produce tar in the smoker’s lungs leading a cleaner, healthier experience. Even the smells and odors that plague traditional smokers are nonexistent with e-Cigarette smokers as the vapor is clean and odorless.

Excellent Alternative to Other Smoking Cessation Products

Nicotine is one of the main components of tobacco cigarettes that leads it to be an addictive habit for many to break. Despite being a product of e-Liquids, nicotine in electronic cigarettes are concentrated and contain virtually half if not less than their traditional tobacco counterparts. Using an electronic cigarette doesn’t just mean that you’re using a healthier and cleaner alternative but also drastically reducing your nicotine content as well.

For those trying to quit altogether, electronic cigarettes have been proven to be more reliable at helping smokers quit than patches or gums. Many smokers who are allergic to patches find solace in being able to curb their dependency on tobacco cigarettes by using a cigarette-like device.

Flexibility

Traditional tobacco cigarettes come in a variety of flavors but can only be enjoyed one at a time and never in packs with different flavors. Electronic cigarettes have the flexibility to have variable amounts of nicotine strengths and flavors (with some companies offering packs of cartridges or cartomizers in special mix and match packs).

Cost-effective

The main draw that many smokers look toward when transitioning from traditional tobacco cigarettes is that they have the potential to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.  By using an electronic cigarette, cartomizers and cartridges cost $2 and less over traditional cigarette packs that are priced at a bare minimum of $5 each. With proper maintenance and upkeep, electronic cigarette users can keep their devices running strong for years to come.

A Few Disadvantages

There aren’t many disadvantages of using an electronic cigarette but there a few notable problems. For instance, there haven’t been any concrete studies truly guaranteeing electronic cigarette’s efficacy as tobacco substitute. Adding to that, nicotine is still a potent chemical used in electronic cigarettes and despite being of low concentrations what’s to stop electronic cigarettes from being just as addictive as traditional tobacco cigarettes which could potentially put a dent in the claim of it being a definitive smoking cessation device. Furthermore, the fact that its electronic lead many to question the reliability of a cigarette that requires power.

Obviously, electronic cigarettes have a few complaints and issues that have yet to be taken care of in the short term. That being said, it’s safe to say that there are tremendous benefits to be had when using an electronic cigarette. If you’re looking for a cleaner alternative that gives you the option to kick if not limit your smoking habit, consider giving electronic cigarettes a try today!