Gateway or Help for Quitters


E-cigarettes have helped people to quit who were not successful using other products. But to know if they are a gateway to other tobacco products it will take continued observation. E-cigarettes do deliver tobacco to the lungs and physicians are worried about the affects this may have on adolescent development of the brain. An estimated 160,000 students have reported using the e-cigarettes but say they have never tried tobacco cigarettes. Between 2011 and 2012, middle and high school students in the United States more than doubled their use of electronic cigarettes.

We need to know what is in the vapor. Testing for more than 50 cigarette toxins in the mist researchers from the FDA found none. It did reveal traces of nitrosamine (TSNAs) and it equaled to the amount present in a nicotine patch. Replacing the ritual of the act of smoking with e-cigarettes has the advantage over patches and pills. Each smoker associates the smoking ritual to their own habit and is much more than the effect of the nicotine addiction. The E-cigarette has the advantage over pills or patches because it replaces the ritual of the act of smoking. Smoking is much more than the addicting effect of nicotine; the smoking habit also includes the rituals that each smoker associates with his or her habit.

In addition to the more boring tobacco flavor, these e-cigarettes have a selection of candy store flavors such as banana split and cream soda. Is this going to lure more and more young people who never even tried a regular tobacco cigarette into a life of nicotine addiction. And the phrase “it’s just vapor” line of advertising makes it sound like a safe product. Until more research is done the World Health Organization still recommends against using it. So far we know that the vapor is made up of water, nicotine, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and flavoring agents. Vegetable Glycerin is the stuff that keeps granola bars chewy and is responsible for the thickness of the vapor. Propylene Glycol(or PG) creates the smoke like vapor that comes out of fog machines. It is used as a flavor carrier in beverages and foods, cough syrup, and also found in asthma inhalers.

As early as October the CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) plan to regulate these devices as tobacco products. They do not yet understand the long term effects these might have on the consumer.


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*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

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