Ah yes, innovation. We now have self-driving cars, smartphones, and Mars exploration. Where do e-cigarettes fit? Electronic or e-cigarettes are plastic battery powered devices designed to offer a vapor experience healthier than regular smoking. These devices include e-hookah, e-cigars, and the like, which can come in assorted flavors. One question that often arises with invention is, “how does it improve life?” Do e-cigarettes live up to the hype of the tech boom? Is vapor healthier than tobacco combustion? This article will weigh the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes.
The alleged pros:
Smoking cessation- One of the original selling points with the e-cigarette is an alternative to burning tobacco. Some studies even suggest it could be more effective than the nicotine patch. However, this same research supports there is no real difference between nicotine e-cigarettes and a placebo in decreasing the urge to smoke. So, it doesn't really decrease the urge for nicotine or the cravings.
Healthier- It has been well documented that smoking tobacco is associated with certain forms of cancer, such as lung cancer. Another belief behind the e-cigarettes is they are healthier with less carcinogens. Tobacco Control reports this to be true.
E-cigarettes or vaping has 9 to 450 less toxins than smoking the regular combustion-type cigarettes with levels varying with the brand. The reduced toxin exposure rates are also consistent with secondhand smoke in indoor environments.
As an addiction counselor, one way I assess state of health or the severity of addiction is by looking at the hands. Fingernails, index fingers, and how one gestures can give insight into what substances they use and for how long. Long-time cigarette smokers may have yellowing of the skin, especially on the index fingers. A New Zealand source also cites dry skin and wounds that will not heal as another indicator of prolonged smoking. Many studies note that the long term effects of vaping is unclear, but they deduce it to be healthier than the smoking norm.
The negative side to e-cigarette use is the novelty and exposure to children. Research states that exposure to children is increasing and so are related risks. Because the cigarettes can be taken apart and have small batteries, the pieces are a choking hazard. In a study on South Korean youth, adolescents were more likely to learn about smoking e-cigarettes from ads and start vaping with the intent of cession. However, this same group is more likely to continue combustion tobacco use at the same rate or more in addition to e-cigarettes.
Another risk, which some may say is a bonus, is the wide assortment of flavors. Yes, blueberry waffle juice can be a draw to children, but it also can make limit setting difficult for adults. Many combustion or analog smokers know to stop when they start to feel dizzy. Vaping does not have the same effect, so this may cause some to smoke more.
And yes, even the fruit juice flavored vapor has nicotine. There are still calories and other health risks, like high blood pressure, risks to pregnant women, and other related risks that accompany nicotine exposure.
It wasn't until May of this year that the FDA extended its jurisdiction to the e-class tobacco products. Therefore, legislation in many states is still trying to catch up. The confusion is that it's not an actual cigarette, so it is difficult if the same age limits should exist. However, regions like New York City are opting to raise the minimum age of all nicotine-related products, including e-cigarettes, to 21.
So the vast majority of research right now supports some benefits of vaping over analogue smoking. There is less exposure to toxins which means reduced cancer risks to the user as well those nearby. However, the device does not seem helpful in reducing the urge for nicotine. Its appeal is not a deterrent for younger smokers.
Many also report an increase in cigarettes overall. Perhaps the easiest way understand the effects is to realize it's still nicotine...which in any form can be addictive.
Be tenacious -and pursue true health!
Erica is a psychotherapist and humanitarian aid coordinator who has a background in health psychology, global health, and addictions. She has over 16 years of counseling, teaching, and coaching experience. Erica has several masters degrees, is a licensed counselor, and has an addiction certification. She has worked with all ages in the US and abroad. Follow Erica on Twitter. Se habla español.
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