For the past couple of decades, society has changed its view on cigarette smoking, where more smokers are socially isolated due to public smoking laws and legislations. Tobacco kills about 37,000 Canadians every year, and lung cancer remains high on the list of preventable diseases.
Smoking cessation tools are a multi-million dollar industry as smokers try to make the healthy choice to kick their habit. E-cigarettes have been introduced and marketed as a cessation tool, although research on the product reveals entirely different results.
How do e-cigarettes work, you ask? E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices designed to simulate conventional cigarette smoking. Inside the cigarette shaped tube is a cartridge that contains nicotine or other chemicals, that when heated, converts liquid into vapour that is inhaled by the smoker. The idea is that the e-cigarettes do not burn, so no smoke is inhaled, which makes the smoking an e-cigarette safer, although not completely safe.
There are several reasons that e-cigarettes can pose just as great a risk as traditional cigarettes:
Nicotine: Nicotine is the highly addictive substance found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which still fuels addiction of the substance even though the delivery of the drug is in a safer manner with e-cigarettes.
Dosage is not regulated: You can purchase nicotine cartridges in a variety of doses (0mg/ml to 36mg/ml) and the higher the dosage, the more intense the effects of the drug.
Cheaper than cigarettes: Cigarettes are heavily taxed due to their associated health risks, while e-cigarettes are becoming widely available at an affordable price.
Marketed to young people: Flavoured cigarettes were banned when it was determined that flavoured products were targeting young users, but there are no regulations on flavoured e-cigarette cartridges which are often laced with large amounts of sugar. Studies show that many e-cigarette users are young people who were never cigarette smokers before.
There does not seem to be an association between e-cigarette use and reduced cigarette consumption in young people, which suggests that young non-smokers are picking up an e-cigarette habit! E-cigarettes are more successful as a cessation tool in older adults, who have more motivation to quit.
If not addressed promptly, e-cigarette use could become another avenue to develop a nicotine addiction, instead of the cessation tool it was initially intended to be. What needs to happen to regulate e-cigarette use?
- Policies regarding public use of e-cigarettes (banned in restaurants, bars, offices)
- Laws against selling to minors
- Warning labels
- No free samples
- Avoid marketing to minors
Do you see e-cigarette use as harmful as cigarette smoking? What else can be done to regulate the use of nicotine? I look forward to your thoughts below!