Monday, August 26, 2013

Hidden danger of e-cigarettes

At a recent social event a man seated next to me pulled an e-cig out of his pocket he said, "I hope you don't mind, but this isn't a real cigarette, it's only vapor."
"I guess you don't know what I do for a living?" was my response.
Steve had quit smoking 15 years ago. He had smoked two packs a day and quit cold turkey. Now he was using 8 to 10 cartridges a day in his e-cig.
When I asked why he started using the e-cigarette after having quit smoking so long ago, his answer was-- curiosity. But now Steve is hooked on nicotine again and spending up to $150 a week.
Some people in tobacco control have been endorsing e-cigarettes as "harm reduction" which is when a smoker, who either can't or won't quit smoking, switches to an e-cigarette because it is "less harmful" than smoking regular cigarettes. But for Steve this isn't about reducing his need to smoke but re-starting his addiction to nicotine and someone is making a lot of money off of Steve's addiction.
E-cigarettes are big business, expected to generate $1 to 2 Billion in sales in 2013. The tobacco companies are adding e-cigs to their list of products. But could it be that since over half of all smokers have quit, that a new marketplace is opening up? Former smokers who can be lured back into nicotine addiction with e-cigarettes and teens who would never think of lighting up a cigarette but don't see an e-cigarette as anything but a fad to try.
So while the rate of smoking has been declining over the years and we have made great strides in preventing teens from starting, I think the real hidden danger of e-cigarettes is that we will be seeing a rise in the number of nicotine addicts. Since few double blind studies have been done and currently there are no one regulating the manufacture and marketing of e-cigarettes, is this the next tobacco epidemic or will nicotine be just another "harmless" addiction like caffeine?


Anonymous said...

Well yes if he is using nicotine, then he has defeated his purpose. However, they also have non nicotine and there should be no one complaining about that one. I am not advocating smoking, but geez come on let us not nit pick every single thing with this legal drug. I would much rather Americans put their energies in attacking the Tobacco companies and the kick backs received by our government and the fact that they can still sell this product knowing what they did to Americans in adding all the Poisons. To me why are we not attacking that? This pisses me off, because people allow the government to interfere in our free country, constitutional rights, and believe that what they are doing is good. I am sorry the more we allow this the less rights for all. Just take the pits being removed from the beaches because some COPD idiot complained that it bothered them. I am a COPD idiot and would never ask for that to be removed. Taking away the fun and the rights of those that enjoy the bbq pits. How come you did not suggest to have half the beaches with pits and the other half without? Well the e-cigs with the non nicotine cartridges do not hurt anyone. Do your research. It is a damn shame.

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

The small study that the FDA did showed that there is no reliability as the amount of nicotine in the cartridges. No nicotine cartridges were found to contain high levels of nicotine and what was supposed to be high nicotine cartridges didn't have any. Since no one regulates these products, it is buyer beware or you can blindly believe what the manufacturers tell you--which worked really good for the tobacco companies for many years.

sean said...

Are these really harmful, but I heard of it as a safer quit smoking device??

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

By law they can't be advertised as a way to stop smoking. We do need more research. One study compared the quit rates with The Patch and they were the same--about 7% over a year. Most professionals suggest using a combination of medications to ease the withdrawals but if the behavioral component isn't addressed relapse is common. So the answer depends on do you just want to quit smoking but maintain your nicotine addiction or do you want to be both smoke and nicotine free?