So, what exactly are electronic cigarettes? They are small battery powered devices that assert they deliver nicotine without the harmful effects of burning of tobacco, while still delivering the flavor and sensation of smoking a cigarette. But is it true?
The FDA has recently sent warnings to some of the leading e cigarette companies, as they are making claims that they help to aid in disease prevention (smoking cessation) and they have been classified as a drug delivery device.
Overseas the electronic cigarette has gained some popularity in certain regions. For example, in the UK, Austria and Beijing, it is estimated that e cigarette users are somewhere around 300,000; however, it is thought that this number has grown.
Experts split their decisions on whether or not the e cigarette is beneficial, at least as a tobacco cessation product, much like nicotine inhalers. The delivery of nicotine continues to have the negative health effects of vasoconstriction on the vessels, leading to coronary artery disease and hypertension.
Additionally, studies have shown that nicotine contributes to strokes, GERD and it causes slower healing time. Nicotine gum has shown to lead to certain types of oral cancer, as would be the case for any nicotine delivery system that is directed at the mouth.
However, The American Association of Public Health Physicians has reported that they feel the e cigarette should be classified as a tobacco product and feels that it will, in the least, reduce the effects of second hand smoke. One study out of New Zealand concluded that “Based on the manufacturer’s information, the composition of the cartridge liquid is not hazardous to health, if used as intended”. Cancer Research UK commented, “For a smoker, the health hazards of continuing to smoke greatly outweigh any potential risks of using NRT”.
Overall, the health care industry is very weary of this new “breakthrough” in nicotine delivery. If being used for weaning oneself from the smoking of actual cigarettes, it seems that many professionals feel it may have the same, or similar effects, as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). The nicotine cartridges come in varying levels of nicotine, from almost none, low, medium, high, to extremely high.