Admit it – you’re tired of the smoker’s cough and spending twenty bucks a week on cigarettes, but you’re not entirely ready to give up the habit. Low and behold: eCigarettes. This new and rising trend among adolescents and Millennials is being marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes, but is it really as beneficial as advertisers say?
How Do They Work?
The first eCigarette (eCig) was introduced to the world in 2003 by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. Since then, there have been various models and brands developed that are available in stores and online. eCigs work by heating a liquid cartridge which contains nicotine, flavoring, and various other chemicals into a smoke vapor. It is considered smokeless because it heats liquid containing nicotine diluted in a propylene glycol solution instead of tobacco.
While some eCigs resemble a cigarette, others are a sleek black “vapor pen” with a near invisible button that activates the vapor when inhaled. There are three main components to an eCig: the rechargeable lithium battery, the vaporization chamber, which contains an atomizer that creates the vapor, and a cartridge for the liquid fluid.
How Do eCigarettes Help Smokers?
Due to the millions of deaths every year caused by cigarettes, eCig manufacturers are adamant that switching over to their product is a much healthier alternative. Cigarettes are known to contain 599+ harmful chemicals and additives in them, depending on the brand. However, eCigarettes don’t contain the harmful chemicals, such as tar and carbon dioxide, that are associated with smoking tobacco.
The main perk is that the eCig is tobacco-free. Many users claim that their smoker’s cough slowly goes away when using eCigs and that they regain their sense of taste and smell, which can be damaged by smoking real cigarettes. Some even say their sleep patterns improve when making the switch.
In addition to it being tobacco-free, another unique quality is that no fire is involved. With no use of a lighter, the chance of inhaling toxic butane is non-existent. Instead, the eCig simulates a cigarette being lit with a small LED light at the end of it that lights up when the user is inhaling.
The Vape Culture
A new smoking culture, or “vaping,” as the term has been popularly coined, has emerged for electronic cigarette users. “Vape bars” are becoming extremely popular in certain states such as Ohio, California and Florida. These specific bars and “vape lounges” are indoor businesses that are legally allocated for vaping. The bar owner usually has a variety of vape fluid flavors ranging anywhere from cherry and apple to banana split or “rollies,” a flavor that is supposed to taste like hand-rolled cigarettes. People gather to hang out and have good conversation while trying out the latest smoke tricks, and can then return home or go out elsewhere without reeking of cigarettes.
Various companies, such as Wake n Vape are even offering herbal formulas for the eCig. Some of the unique oils offered include sleep aid, relaxation, energy, stay awake, intimate, stress less, and even PMS relief.
With the demand for this new product, it seems like a no brainer to switch over from cigarettes to eCigs, but are they really a safer alternative?
What’s the Catch?
Since eCigs are relatively new to the market, there simply isn’t enough research done to certify that they really are a healthy alternative to cigarettes. Although they are tobacco-free and contain a much lower count of chemicals than cigarettes, they do contain highly lethal chemicals, such as Propylene Glycol, a chemical used in anti-freeze solutions. The Food and Drug Administration discovered detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals too.
However, users must recognize that it is not just tobacco that causes cancer. The chemicals in eCigs can still lead to cancer as well as chronic diseases such as heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. Cancer takes years to develop. It is impossible to truly determine if the vapor from eCigs is less harmful than conventional smoke since the product has only been around for 10 years.
Recent short-term studies have shown that people may believe they are smoking eCigs to help them quit but within 6-12 months of being interviewed, the majority of them still smoke regular cigarettes. The FDA has not yet approved eCigs as a means of quitting smoking or as a healthy alternative. Rather, they have actually gone after a few of the main eCig companies who make such claims.
So, is the decision to switch over to eCigs really the smartest one? The fact is they haven’t been around long enough for science to confirm.
If you want to quit smoking, stick to alternatives that have been approved by medical professionals, such as nicotine gum, behavior modification, or even less conventional ways such as acupuncture needles or the embedding of nicotine-averse images in the brain.
eCigarettes may be a tasty alternative to cigarettes, but be aware that smoking them may not necessarily be a healthy choice.