Here's the question - Are E-cigarettes actually a safe alternative to tobacco smoking?

3년 전

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E-cigarettes. Source: Flickr. Author: Vaping360 . CCO licensed.

What does the 'e' in e-cigarette stand for? Let me answer that right away, the 'e' stands for electronic. Hence, e-cigarette can also be called electronic cigarette. Wow, the world is really changing, and technology is really affecting so many areas of our lives. Can you imagine?, even cigarette, is now connected with electronics.

The e-cigarette is a device, precisely, a device that uses battery, and gives off doses of vaporized nicotine as well as non-nicotine solutions, that are inhaled by the user. Well guys, the very aim of e-cigarette is to actually provide a sensation that's almost the same as inhaling smoke from tobacco, except that in this case, i.e. the e-cigarette's case, there's no smoke. There are other names that people call e-cigarettes, such as electronic nicotine delivery systems, some people also call it e-cigs, they're also called vape pens as well as vaporizer cigarettes. E-cigs are actually marketed as an alternative for smoking with the intention of cutting down on smoking.

The e-cigarettes appeared for the very first time on a Chinese market, in the year 2004, and ever since then guys, millions upon millions of people have been using these cigarettes worldwide. It was estimated in 2016, in the U.S. that there about 3% of adults were using e-cigarettes. As for teenagers, damn...they jumped at these stuffs, in the U.S. as well, the usage of e-cigs by teenagers increased by there about 900% (wow), between the year 2011 and 2015. You can only imagine such a great increase, in the usage of these cigarettes by little children. It was also found that there about 50 percent of the teenagers and young adults that started vaping had not been involved in smoking before they started using e-cigarettes. Recently, so many research works are suggesting that vaping maybe dangerous. Although, yeah, we understand that it is said that vaping helps existing smokers to stop smoking but it's seen that younger adults start vaping just to have fun and enjoy themselves and not in anyway to substitute the use of tobacco. All these made the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to put down rules and regulations in 2016 regarding the marketing, sales as well as the production of e-cigarettes.

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Different types and sizes of E-cigarettes. Source: Pixabay. (CCO) Licensed.

The e-cigs are actually long tubes that look a lot like a cigarette, pen, the usual cigar as well as a pipe. A large number of e-cigarettes are reusable, having cartridges that can be replaced as well as refilled. But also, some of them are disposable. These devices were actually invented by a Chinese called Hon Lik (a pharmacist). Since the year 2005, the company that he was working for started selling these products in big markets. Currently, there are more than four hundred and sixty different brands of e-cigarettes being sold on major markets.

The e-cigs usually have a cartridge (also known as mouth piece), a battery that is rechargeable, a heating element as well as electronic circuits. In using an e-cigarette, you usually suck on the cartridge or mouthpiece, when you do that, a sensor triggers the heating element. These heating elements then start vaporizing the solution (which is usually flavored) and are held in the cartridges. The user then inhales the solution (which can also be called aerosol solution).

The e-cigarettes usually contain nicotine ranging from 0 to extra high. And as I mentioned above, the heating element causes the heated liquid to vaporize. The e-cigs also use battery. I'm sure that you'd be wondering what exactly could the battery be for.

Here's the use- the battery provides the heating element with power. The batteries are usually rechargeable, and they are lithium-ion batteries. As for the solution, they can also be called e-liquid (lolzzz), electronic liquid (hahaha). It's really funny to me, the extent technology has gone and the terminologies we hear and read about nowadays. Aside from e-liquid, the solution can also be called e-juice (another funny term hahaha). They are usually made by getting nicotine from tobacco and then combining it with a base. And usually a base called propylene glycol. You find usage of these propylene glycol in inhalers e.g. for asthma.

Now, there are different flavors that users can choose from. Examples of flavors include the menthol flavor, watermelon, the traditional flavor as well as lava flow. I'm sure that some of us would be wondering what is the traditional flavor; actually the traditional flavors are those that seem so much like traditional cigarettes. Hence, the traditional flavors are usually a mixture of tobacco and menthol.

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Source: Flickr. Author: E-cig Twiggy. (CCO) Licensed

There are claims that the e-cigarettes are good bypass to the risks of smoking tobacco and that they are very good alternative to cigarettes. Some research works have also found that some smokers quit smoking tobacco, and switched to e-cigs.

There's no denying it, the e-cigs have helped cut down the number of tobacco smokers. In the year 2015, some research works pointed that there about 50% of the adult users of e-cigs actually continued to smoke cigarettes, even as they started using e-cigs. Hence, vaping wasn't a 100 percent substitute for tobacco.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention i.e the CDC actually came to conclusion that e-cigs are not suitable for pregnant women, young people, as well as those who have never smoked before, that are trying e-cigs out. Although, there are debates that it's quite better for younger people to start using e-cigarettes rather than the traditional cigarettes. The e-cigs have been very attractive to teenagers as well as adolescents and young adults, because of the way these e-cigs are marketed. E-cigarettes are actually marketed as those nice and very safe devices that provide users with different cool flavors to enjoy. However guys, some research works are suggesting that these e-cigs may not be as safe as they're marketed to seem. And this has been raising some real concerns.

As I mentioned above, there's no denying it, e-cigs have helped many tobacco smokers quit, but recently there have been growing studies suggesting that vaping may also be harmful. Here are a few reasons why there have been public health concerns about the use of e-cigs.

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Image source: Pixabay. (CCO) Licensed.

E-cigarettes contain a very addictive constituent which affects the brain of adolescents, I'm talking about nicotine guys. Nicotine could be very dangerous for pregnant women as it may cause changes in fetal development. It's also been found that there are toxicants in the aerosol, which are really potentially harmful.

The e-cigs actually exposes the lungs to substances like dicetyl as well as others. Dicetyl is a substance that may cause a disease called popcorn lung (lolzzz). That would be a topic for another day. The popcorn lung disease is very severe as well as irreversible disease. Also, it has been found that accidental swallowing of e-liquid may cause fatal poisoning. Another reason why e-cigs are raising public concerns is the fact that it's also been found that people who actually use e-cigarettes do not still stop smoking tobacco.

Hence, the purpose is defeated, as e-cigs were suppose to serve as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. But in fact, it increases the problem, as people trying to quit tobacco smoking, just end up adding e-cigs to the problem, which may also be potentially harmful. Also, teenagers that get involved in vaping are very likely to someday start smoking tobacco.

Here's another thing, nicotine is generally addictive as I mentioned above, hence users of e-cigs tend to also use other drugs e.g cocaine. The fact that these e-cigs are so well marketed is also another concern, as it tempts younger people to start using e-cigs. And as I also mentioned above, raising the possibilities that they would someday start using traditional cigarettes.

Recently, several research works have been carried out, with the aim of figuring out how nitrosamines, which is found in e-cigs, can actually cause damage to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). It was found from these research works that exposure of lung cells to smoke from e-cigs actually caused a severe reduction in the ability of cells in the lungs to repair. And when this research work was carried out on mice, it was found that the smoke from e-cigs led to the damaging of the bladder, heart and lungs in mice. Hence, it was concluded that the smoke from e-cigs may actually cause bladder and lung cancer in man, and may also cause diseases of the heart as well. Therefore guys, even if people that smoke tobacco actually quit it, to switch to e-cigarettes, it isn't certified that they are free from potential health risks, as there are no evidence at the time to prove that they wouldn't suffer long term consequences. For more information, feel free to check my references.

Thanks for reading!

References

1.Association between electronic cigarette use and changes in quit attempts, success of quit attempts, use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy, and use of stop smoking services in England: time series analysis of population trends

2.Get the facts about electronic cigarettes, their health effects and the risks of using e-cigarettes.

3.Are e-cigarettes a safe alternative to smoking?

4.E-cigarettes and Lung Health

5.E-cigarettes and smoking cessation in real-world and clinical settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Image Sources

All images used here are from free sources and liable for commercial use
all licensed under the Creative Commons.

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