E-Cigarettes and 'Vape'-ing
June 3, 2015
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What are they?
E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor. In appearance, e-cigarettes look like cigarettes. Below is a general depiction of an e-cigarette.
Usually, the mouthpiece is either connected to (or is part of) a cartridge that holds the nicotine liquid and flavorings. This is connected to the vaporizer, which turns the liquid into a vapor. The battery is the final piece, and some batteries are rechargeable. The indicator light will glow when the user inhales, but not all e-cigarettes have them.
Are they Harmful?
Two big health concerns with the e-cigarette industry are (1) the increased nicotine
exposure and (2) the lack of regulation from the FDA. Although there is often a reduction of carcinogens and tar-producing chemicals, there may be a dramatic increase in the potency or amount of nicotine present. Nicotine is the addictive chemical, after all, so there isn't much use in smoking e-cigarettes to help you on your path towards quitting. The FDA currently does not regulate the manufacture of e-cigarettes. That being said, an e-cigarette producer may market their product as not having certain carcinogens, but there is no accountability or authority in enforcing the accuracy of these statements.
As a side effect of the lack of FDA regulation, the e-cigarette companies are able to make advertisements and flavors that cater to younger audiences. This can be done through using 'fun' characterizations of using the product, as well as including flavors that younger audiences might enjoy (see picture below). Although there have been great strides over the past few decades in preventing young people from smoking, the worry is that e-cigarettes will reintroduce tobacco and nicotine to adolescents.
Since we don’t know exactly what chemicals are in e-cigarettes, and the FDA isn’t checking, the research hasn’t been able to show what chemicals may be present in second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes or vaporizers. A lthough there are no federal regulations yet, the State of Utah includes the vapor from e-cigarettes as a prohibited type of smoke, according to the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act. This means that if you are not allowed to smoke regular cigarettes at a certain location, then you are also not allowed to smoke e-cigarettes or vaporizers.
According to the
Harvard Medical School, there is some concern that the enjoyment and perceived reduction in risk might reignite the habit in some people who have already quit. Another factor is that many people see e-cigarettes as a step to quitting smoking.
Not only will the nicotine keep them hooked, but reports are now showing that many people use BOTH cigarettes and e-cigarettes, as well as using e-cigarettes more often and for longer periods of time. As one ad says, ‘Why quit? Switch…” This is an accurate representation since switching to e-cigarettes is just a different way to deliver nicotine to the body.
Salt Lake County Tobacco Prevention and Control's website.
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