Electronic Cigarette Health Concerns: Are E-cigs the Solution?

The debate around electronic Cigarette health concerns has been a fiery one. Health experts brought together with the intention of reducing the high death rates and deceases caused by tobacco smoking have not reached a consensus in regards to whether e-cigs make the smoking problem better or worse. Some health experts have stuck with the assertion that, e-cigs are less harmful than the ordinary tobacco cigarettes. However, the bone of contention comes in where they claim that they are not well versed with the long-term health problems or risks of the electronic cigarettes. Before embarking on the impacts of electronic cigarettes on personal health, a brief description of the device is appropriate;

What is an E-Cig?

An e-cig, also known as, a personal vaporizer (PV), electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) or an e-cigarette, is an electronic device that is powered by a battery with the intention of stimulating tobacco smoking by creating a vapor that is similar to smoke. A heating element recognized as an atomizer is used to vaporize a liquid solution in the device. The solution contains propylene glycol (or vegetable glycerin), nicotine, and flavorings. Though its long-term dangers have not yet been properly unearthed by health experts, research has revealed the following:

Electronic Cigarette Health Concerns: Impacts e-cigs on general health 

Personal Vaporizers are addictive. The nicotine in the e-cigs is addictive; you will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it. You will start feeling depressed, irritated, anxious and restless. The device is also more harmful to people who have heart problems. Opponents of e-cigs claim that they may be used as gateway drugs by people who do not smoke and by kids who get influenced by celebrity advertisements. For example, research shows that, there is a 10% increase in the number of American high school students who have used personal vaporizers since 2012, the same research also shows that, 3.4% of American adults have used e-cigarettes since 2011. In the United Kingdom, the number of people that use e-cigarettes has gone up from 700, 000 in 2012, to 2.1 million in 2013. Approximately 60% of these individuals are smokers while the rest are people who had quit smoking. Research has also indicated that approximately 1% of people who have never used tobacco products have used e-cigs. Also, a majority of the people who use e-cigarettes still use the ordinary tobacco cigarettes.  

According to a study conducted by scientists from the University of Athens, Greece, e-cigs may cause lung problems. A total of 32 volunteers, where 8 were non-smokers and 24 were regular smokers participated in the research. Some lived with asthma while others COPD. Each of the participants was asked to inhale the vapor from an e-cig for 10 minutes, as if they were smoking. A spirometric test in conjunction with other diagnostic procedures were used to test the airway resistance in the volunteers. Airway resistance is usually used in Respiratory Physiology to determine the respiratory tracts’ resistance to airflow that comes in during inhalation and goes out during exhalation. The findings of this research were that, there was an increase in airway resistance during the 10 minutes that the participants used the electronic cigarettes.

Research has also shown that people are using e-cigs in great numbers to either quit smoking, or reduce tobacco consumption. In this study, 75% of the people who smoked everyday claimed that using e-cigarettes helped them smoke fewer cigarettes, while a staggering 85% believed that e-cigs played a great role in helping them quit smoking. Three quarters of the respondents in the study claimed that they used e-cigs to calm their tobacco smoking urges in areas where tobacco smoking was banned.  

In contrast to the above discovery, the World Health Organization in July 2013 stated that, the effectiveness of personal vaporizers in facilitating smoking cessation had not yet been fully established. The body further advised consumers to abstain from e-cigarette use unless a national regulatory body of good reputation found their use safe and effective. Also, the US Government Smoking and Cessation site, Smokefree.Gov, claimed that the effectiveness of e-cigs in reducing smoking urges had not yet been demonstrated, it therefore recommended that they should not be used.

Some supporters of personal vaporizers believe that they may be the new solution to quitting smoking. Research, however, has not provided the necessary data to assert their stand. Thus it still remain a question if electric cigarettes are safe or not. But we can certainly agree upon the fact that they are not as harmful as regular tobacco sticks are. There are more than 4,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, whereas there's just propylene glycol and nicotine in e-cigs. Most people who have replaced regular cigarettes with electronic ones have started to feel much healthier and better in just a few days. This is a pretty good indication that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regulars, isn't it?