Electronic cigarette health risks are being widely discussed since the use of this device is growing. The e-cig market, worldwide, topped $1 billion in 2012 – and all indications are that it wont be slowing down any time soon. Although that amounts to only 1 percent of the sales of traditional tobacco cigarettes, the number of consumers who say they’ve tried vapor cigarettes is growing fast. Even though e-cigarettes don’t make real smoke, they’ve ignited a firestorm of controversy.
The e-cig has divided a public health community whose reliance on carefully collected scientific evidence is no match for a fast-moving new technology backed by some of the world’s slickest marketers. The current heated debates about vapor cigarette legislation and regulations seem to be more as a fight between lobbyists than a genuine care about public safety. Government, tobacco manufacturer’s, who are eager to enter e-cigarette market, and pharmaceutical companies all could potentially experience significant financial damages or gains depending on the outcome.
Meanwhile, states are moving toward passing their own restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes. While New Jersey bans sales to people 19 and under, and the use of e-cigs in indoor work and public spaces. In Pennsylvania, anyone of any age can buy and use them anywhere. “Vaping” is forbidden on trains by New York Transit. It is illegal to vape indoors anywhere in New Jersey and New Hampshire.
ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE HISTORY
The electronic cigarette was invented in the 1960s in China by a company called Ruyan, but it didn’t really take off until about 2007. About 250 e-cig makers from all over the world crowd the marketplace now, including the biggest tobacco cigarette manufacturers. Some analysts think e-cigarette sales could overtake those of tobacco cigarettes within a decade. In 2012 Lorillard, which manufactures Kent cigarettes, bought Blu, an e-cigarette maker, in anticipation of the boom.
Vapor cigarette cartridge contains water, propylene glycol, nicotine, and natural flavor essences. E-cigarettes contain use propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin that are widely used in food, pharmaceutical and personal care products, and is generally considered as safe by FDA (America’s Food and Drug Administration). The problem is that since the product is not regulated there is no guarantee that the liquid in the vapor cigarette contains the ingredients manufacturers claim.
In 2009 the FDA sampled 30 cartridges from only 2 vendors, and in one cartridge, a trace amount of diethylene glycol was found. Diethylene glycol is a harmful chemical and a small amount of it would have a harmful effect for human body. However, to date there have been any records of vapor cigarette users that had suffered from diethylene glycol. In addition, studies have shown that some of e-cigs that claim to be nicotine-free in fact contain nicotine.
In an effort to better regulate the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, the FDA has made numerous attempts to have these products regulated as drug-delivery devices (which must be approved before they are marketed) rather than tobacco products (which do not need to be pre-approved), as they are currently classified. It’s widely expected that the FDA will eventually regulate e-cigarettes, but for now it only forbids e-cigarette makers from advertising the product as a smoking cessation aid.
E-CIGARETTE HEALTH RISKS AND LACK OF EVIDENCE
E-cigarettes don’t burn and don’t produce tobacco smoke, which contains dozens of known carcinogens. Instead, electric current from a battery heats a liquid containing nicotine. One health-related worry is that a smokeless device may encourage higher consumption of nicotine, which can be poisonous in large doses. However, whether e-cigarettes can deliver such a large dose is unclear. Proponents claim that if used in moderation the nicotine doses e-cigarettes provide may be lower than those attained from smoking cigarettes.
Although, e-cigarette does not produce smoke, nicotine itself causes high blood pressure and palpitations, and is highly addictive. Addiction to nicotine is another hot topic of the debate. A grounded concern is that readily available e cigarettes can potentially turn more people into nicotine addicts. Proponents claim that nicotine free vapor liquid helps to quit smoking. However, beside anecdotal evidence there is no scientific prove to support the claims. One study demonstrated that that vapor cigarette did not outperform nicotine patches and gum in helping to quit smoking.
One of the strongest vapor cigarette proponents arguments is that electronic cigarettes are safe for the public since they do not contain carcinogens associated with second hand smoke. However, despite the fact that the effects of second hand “vapor” have not been researched it can not be denied that vapor components can have at least an irritating respiratory effect on people adjacent to a “vaper”. Due to a lack of the evidence public places, such as restaurants, trains, etc., are introducing their own rules regarding e-cigarettes.
Despite the non-existent evidence of long-term effects of e-cigarette vapor today electronic cigarettes are generally accepted as safer than conventional cigarettes. Electronic vapor cigarettes “do present an opportunity to improve public health”, according to Vaughan Rees, a tobacco researcher at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.