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Electronic Cigarettes (4/15/13)

April 15, 2013

Electronic Cigarettes?

Several countries, like Brazil and Panama, ban them.  The FDA declares their use not backed by proper clinical trials. Some addictionologists hate them, thinking they can addict kids and keep others hooked on nicotine.  Others, like the newspaper the Economist and many public health officials think they are a breakthrough in smoking cessation. Airlines forbid them.  Passengers using them in flight have caused planes to be sent back to their origin where they were arrested.

What Are Electronic Cigarettes?

A vaporized form of nicotine, often used with plastic cartridges that look like cigarettes.  Inside is nicotine, propylene glycol, and usually  flavoring agents.  On some occasions, nitrosamines and other tobacco products have been found.  Yet most electronic cigarettes provide mostly pure nicotine.

Who Uses Them?

Primarily smokers.  Apparently up to a fifth of American smokers have tried them.  They are often used as part of smoking cessation, but clinical trials of their effectiveness are still mainly on the drawing boards.

Is Nicotine Safe?

No way.  It resets the entire autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate, breathing and many basic actions of life.  Blood pressure goes up.  Epinephrine levels go up.  It’s thought atherosclerosis, through a series of different measures, also increases.

And nicotine can be highly addictive.  Intravenous nicotine can be preferred to intravenous heroin, for example.

However, the cardiovascular effects of nicotine in electronic cigarettes appears less than the cardiovascular and carcinogenic effects of smoking complete cigarettes.

Nicotinoids may not be so helpful to others species, though.  Nicotine, like caffeine, is one of nature’s prominent long used  insecticides.  Neonicotinoids may be one of the reason for Colony Collapse Disorder, which is killing bees everywhere and setting up the potential for a catastrophic loss of pollination of major global crops.

How Are Electronic Cigarettes Better for the Public?

Smoking kills a lot of people through second and third hand smoke.  People were shocked a year ago to realize that children in buildings with smokers – whose parents never touched tobacco – had much higher rates of respiratory diseases like asthma.  Non-smoking Japanese farmer’s wives die of lung cancer three to six times at the rate expected when their spouse smokes.

Electronic cigarettes come close to elminating the problem of second hand smoke.

Secondly, cigarettes have thousands of separate components.  They include perhaps ten major classes of carcinogens.  Some estimate cigarettes put out 10,000 separate substances.  Many are toxic.

By comparison, electronic cigarettes have one toxic component – nicotine.

Do Others Become Annoyed By Electronic Cigarettes?

Some do.  However, most do not miss the tar, smoke, and carcinogens of normal cigarettes.  They are generally much easier for the public to handle.

Personal Experience

One of the great pleasures of my life is getting people to quit smoking.

It’s not easy.

Many smokers try to quit a dozen times or more.  They know the evil weed may kill them.  They hate the cost and the public excoriation they experience.  Consider airport “smoking areas.”   They look and feel like glass cages, short term prisons where the public offenders can be banished and mocked.

About half the smokers I’ve seen have shifted from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.  Many report breathing better and overall improved health. They know their overall chance of death has gone done appreciably.

Some have gone all the way to quit.

Bottom Line

Electronic cigarettes will get better clinical trials – and more regulation.  Selling them to kids is banned in most countries as a “gateway” to other tobacco products and addictive drugs.

But they can help a lot of smokers improve their health.  They can also act as way stations to complete cessation.

A fifth of American adults still smoke.  They usually need all the help they can get to quit.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 22, 2013 8:19 AM

    Thanks, Irek. There can be problems with everything – and nicotine addiction is easy. Putting it in place as a way to get off cigarettes strikes me as more functional.

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