Lung cancer cases have been decreasing while vaping, which is inhaling nicotine vapor from an e-cigarette or vape pen, has increased. Fifty years ago this month, the Surgeon General announced evidence existed that smoking was linked to lung cancer. The evil cancer villain has been lurking in the shadows, terrorizing the nation as millions of smokers light up. Anyone enjoying an episode of Mad Men will be shocked at the amount of cigarettes the actors go through in one scene alone.
Fifty years ago, smoking was boasted as a symbol of power, confidence and allure with just a hint of sex appeal. Cigarettes were pushed in magazines, billboards, newspapers and commercials displaying young children assisting a parent to light up a smoke. However, when the Surgeon General’s 1964 report came out denouncing cigarettes as a health hazard, anti-tobacco efforts were organized to hinder people’s ability to smoke, such as higher taxes on tobacco, nonsmoking areas and funding for stop smoking programs.
According to recent studies reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, antismoking campaigns have saved as much as 8 million lives over the last 50 years. Smoking has been decreased by 58 percent, hovering at 18 percent, and life expectancy has increased by 1.5 years for women and 2 years for men. While the lung cancer rates have decreased, vaping has increased.
New smoking alternatives have flooded the market, like e-cigarettes, and gaining popularity by leaps and bounds. Many believe tobacco-free alternative cigarettes are beneficial to public health by completely eliminating second hand smoke and aiding in the decrease in lung cancer. Some smoke-free areas permit e-cigarettes and vape pens and have increased vaping.
Vaporium have sprung up across the country. Henley Vaporium recently opened in SoHo and has become a popular place for those interested in vaping. Vapologists guide customers through the multitude of gadgets and liquid nicotine, referred to as e-flavor, which number upwards of 100 flavors like blueberry, butterscotch, vanilla and caramel.
Electronic cigarettes contain a sensor-activated battery. When a person inhales, or pushes a button on some models, an element heats up and vaporizes the e-liquid nicotine located in a cartridge which emits a mist, or vapor. Disposable e-cigarettes start at $10 while vape pens can run $250, but can be found for much less.
E-cigarettes have also been a stepping stone for helping people to quit smoking, especially now when New Year’s resolutions are still fresh in mind. Henley co-founder Talia Eisenberg battled OxyContin and Vicodin addiction for many years, finally overcoming the drugs only to find she couldn’t quit smoking. Nothing worked; nicotine gum, patches, Chantix and cold turkey were unable to help her kick the habit. Then she picked up an e-cigarette; within a few weeks, she kicked the habit for good.
Eisenberg, along with her co-founder, Peter Denholtz, traveled to Shenzhen, China to develop the first Henley e-cigarette. The new Henley design contains an enhanced battery and chip, giving it a better draw and more cigarette-like features: more vapor, more style.
The results have been overwhelming; several Henley Vaporiums have opened across New York. Eisenberg views this as a viable option for smokers with less health risk to both smokers and non-smokers alike. The vapor is much less toxic than drawing chemical-laden tobacco smoke into the lungs.
While many vape pen users agree with Eisenberg, no long-term studies have been done on the use of e-cigarettes to determine just how harmful they may be.
American Lung Association spokesperson Dr. Mike Feinstein expressed his concerns about the safety of the e-cigarettes, stating people are inhaling a chemical vapor into their lungs without realizing what is in it. Dr. Robert Greene, a physician at the Palm Beach Cancer Institute also expressed his concerns about a potential health hazard in the making. Greene emphasized the fact that no real information exists about the long-term effects of liquid nicotine since the product has only been around for three years.
Researchers do not know exactly what’s inside of vape pens and e-cigarettes, but when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examined a sample, toxic chemicals were found including diethylene glycol the main ingredient in antifreeze.
The FDA is assembling regulations regarding the use of vape pens and they should be out later this year. No matter what the FDA decides about the future of vape pens, facts cannot be denied. Lung cancer has decreased as vaping increased.
By Deborah Baran
ABC Action News