I’ll probably regret posting this because we’ll start getting even more spammers and they’ll start trying to push these here. But I found this article on the MSN Health & Fitness pages and found it interesting. I had heard about E-cigarettes in passing but didn’t really know what they were. (And didn’t really care, not being a smoker.)
by Dr. Ranit Mishori, PARADE
I recently was surprised to see cigarettes for sale at several kiosks at my local mall. At least, I thought they were cigarettes. Then I discovered that they actually were “electronic cigarettes”—battery-powered puffables that produce no smoke and contain no known carcinogens or tar.
The look-alikes, which are less expensive than cigarettes, are made to re-create the real experience. They’re marketed in fancy packages with gold inscriptions and photos of good-looking people “smoking.” They produce a vapor that looks like smoke, and the tip glows red as you puff on it. When you inhale, your lungs get a dose of chemicals that typically include nicotine, which gives smoking its kick and makes it addictive. But their biggest advantage, one saleswoman told me, is that electronic cigarettes—or “cigars,” “cigarillos,” or “pipes” designed on the same principles—help smokers kick the habit.
That caught my attention. I know how hard it is for many of my patients to quit smoking. If there’s something new out there to help them, I want to know about it.
Back home, an Internet search turned up thousands of hits and promises: “A great aid for those struggling to stop smoking.” “No risk of cancer.” “Use anywhere: indoors, airports, hospitals.” But I could find no scientific research at all.
Dr. Jack Henningfield, an expert on addiction who serves as a scientific adviser on tobacco to the World Health Organization (WHO), calls e-cigarettes “renegade products” for which “we have no scientific information.” The electronic cigarette, he says, is a vehicle to deliver nicotine to the body. Its effects, he says, “are not benign,” especially when breathed into the lungs.
While there is a “data void,” scientists worldwide question the claim that e-cigarettes help stop smoking. If anything, they worry that these aggressively marketed products could introduce more people to an addiction they never had. Indeed, the WHO has stated that e-cigarettes are not “a legitimate therapy for smokers trying to quit.” Dr. Henningfield notes that some manufacturers “blatantly go after young people,” advertising e-cigarettes with flavors “like chocolate and candy.”
Other nicotine substitutes—the “patch,” or gum, for example—are licensed as drugs and require Food and Drug Administration approval. But e-cigarettes, nearly all of them manufactured in China, have not been licensed as drugs or regulated.
Recently, however, the FDA initiated a ban on imports of e-cigarettes on the ground that they constitute unapproved drug-delivery devices (an action being challenged in court). It may take additional measures to restrict their sale.
Without more evidence, we won’t know whether e-cigarettes have the potential to do any good or if they really do pose health risks. For now, if you’re a smoker trying to quit, talk to your doctor about other, proven methods.