Are E-Cigarettes Harmful?
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08-12-13 Category: Addiction Treatment

Electronic cigarettes, better known as e-cigarettes have become the latest sensation in the billion dollar industry of smoking.  E-cigarettes are the newest technology when it comes to smoking, designed to produce the feel and allure of smoking without the harmful side effects of inhaling tobacco and other chemicals.  The cigarettes are basically electronic inhalers that vaporize a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking.

The proliferation of e-cigarettes has been billed by many in the tobacco industry as a newer and safe alternative to cigarettes, and even as a more effective means to quit smoking than the patch or going “cold turkey”.  However, not everyone has been as convinced of the safety and effectiveness as the tobacco companies.

Lack Of Information

Lack of information and rigorous study; along with worry about the products inside of E-cigarettes have lad many organizations across the world to doubt their safety.  In the US, none of the clinical studies about the use of e-cigarettes have been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and therefore users have no way of knowing if they are safe, which chemicals they contain and how much nicotine they are inhaling.

Similarly the World Health Organization stated in September 2008 that no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing that the electronic cigarette is a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy.  Also the body responsible for drafting healthcare guidelines in England and Wales, NICE, argues that there is limited evidence on the efficacy, safety and quality of other nicotine containing products such as electronic cigarettes, which led the British Medical Association not to recommend the use of electronic cigarettes as aids to smoking cessation or as a harm reduction approach.

Proponents Of E-Cigarettes

On the other hand, e-cigarette companies, along with some organizations and independent groups claim that the evidence against the product is exaggerated and it can actually be a health benefit.  E-cigarette makers often claim that, the health effects of e-cigarettes need to be kept in the context that users of e-cigarettes tend to use fewer tar-containing cigarettes. Proponents of electronic cigarettes often claim that electronic cigarettes deliver the experience of smoking while eliminating the smell and health risks associated with tobacco smoke.  With the lower levels of toxins and chemicals comparative to regular cigarettes proponents of e-cigarettes claim that these products can actually help wean people off of classic and more harmful tobacco products by giving them a less dangerous alternative to turn to.

Overall, the jury is still out the real safety and good use of e-cigarettes.  Researchers continue to test the new products, which have generally become commonplace in many markets across the world, often passed reluctant governments.  However, so far it seems that many consumers appear to be flocking to this new cigarette replacement product without too much concern for the possible consequences.

In the end, it’s hard to definitely claim that e-cigarettes are good or bad just yet.  While they are becoming extremely popular, more rigorous research is needed before the medical and behavioral health fields can determine whether the new e-cigarettes are truly more helpful or harmful to us all.

Post by: Marissa Maldonado

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