Scientists, having analyzed 84 different studies on e-cigarettes, have released a report from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). The report concludes that the use of such devices by smokers wishing to quit is actually having the opposite effect. E-cigarette users tend to use traditional cigarettes as well. This is contrary to claims made by many manufacturers who pitch them as such; cigarettes are not quit with e-cigarettes.
The study reports that people who used e-cigarettes were less likely to quit smoking regular cigarettes than those that did not. Smoking e-cigarettes, known as “vaping”, delivers a highly concentrated dose of nicotine. This technology, which includes the refill cartridges, unlike nicotine gum or patches is not regulated. Nicotine is a poison, and the level of concentration found in many e-cigarettes has increased calls to poison centers.
In September 2010 there was an average of one e-cigarette related call per month. By February 2014 that number has ballooned to two hundred and fifteen, and more than half the calls involved children under the age of six. There has also been a sharp increase in the number of exposure calls as nicotine can be absorbed through the skin, splashed into the eyes and ingested in the event of a device malfunction.
According to Dr. Bruce Anderson, director of operation at the poison control center, a mouthful of this highly concentrated poison could potentially be fatal. Attractive names for these flavored delivery systems such as Candy Cane, Space Jam and Bubble Gum continue to attract teenagers. From 2011-2012 the number of middle and high school students that had tried an e-cigarette more than doubled. Given that studies are finding that cigarettes are not quit by using e-cigarettes, these are alarming statistics.
There has even been a recent study from the University of California, San Diego that states that people with a history of mental issues are three times more likely to “vape” regularly. The comparative pit falls of smoking regular cigarettes begins to lessen as we learn more about this relatively new $1.5 billion US industry.
While many states have already banned or are looking into banning e-cigarettes in public places, members of the US Senate are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to examine new research which suggests the technology is capable of producing carcinogens similar to regular cigarettes. Reports suggest the heat process in the devices make them capable of producing formaldehyde, also found in traditional cigarettes. The second-hand exposure question is also being raised as potential non e-cigarette users could inadvertently inhale the vapor.
The allure of an alternative to the addictive and deadly side effects of smoking cigarettes is largely an enigma. However, recent studies are pointing out that the marketing schemes aimed at encouraging users to try e-cigarettes as an alternative or quitting program to regular cigarettes is false. The poisonous, high concentration of nicotine presents plenty of risks, even without the added knowledge that using these electric devices doesn’t appear to help smokers quit. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true. Despite many health conscious people’s desire to get away from their bad habit, e-cigarettes are just a flavored alternative of the real thing, and cigarettes are not quit when using them.
Opinion by J. Benjamin