I'm not a proponent of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. While I concede that they may be the lesser of two evils, smoking a combustible cigarette or an e-cigarette, I still believe they are dangerous and should not be promoted.
Those who advocate for electronic cigarettes make the following claims:
- They are not addicting as are traditional cigarettes
- You aren't "smoking," you're "vaping," because you aren't inhaling smoke, which is an irritant to the lungs
- You aren't inhaling many of the traditional cigarette ingredients/pollutants
- E-cigarettes can be a smoking cessation tool, helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
Those opposed to the new cigarettes say:
- E-cigarettes are not effective as a smoking cessation tool because they don't rid the person of the hand-to-mouth and time-of-smoking habits, they just transfer them from traditional cigarette to e-cigarette form
- While you aren't inhaling smoke, you are inhaling vapor, which is not meant to go into your lungs. You are still inhaling substances that are not meant to be inhaled.
- Children and teens are drawn to them because of the marketing and flavors
Interestingly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a press release on April 3, 2014, to notify the public of a significant increase in calls to poison control centers across all states in relation to e-cigarette use.
Research has been ongoing since the introduction of e-cigarettes as doctors and regulators try to sort out the truth from the claims. The most recent study was just published last month. According to the study, undertaken by RTI International:
Although the FDA does regulate the sale of cigarettes and tobacco (both smoking and smokeless), it doesn't control the sales of e-cigarettes unless they are specifically marketed for therapeutic purposes. The FDA has proposed that it should cover "additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes."
The FDA is encouraging people to submit their thoughts on e-cigarettes: Extending Authorities to Additional Tobacco Products.
As with regular cigarettes, I believe that as long as they are a legal product, if someone chooses to smoke that is their decision. I feel the same way about electronic cigarettes. If people choose to use them, that is their decision. However, I do feel it important to sort out what is true. Are they really harmless? Are they really effective smoking cessation products? It's not the use I am debating, it's the claims.
What do you think? Is there a place for e-cigarettes? What about the argument from the industry that they are not marketing it towards children and teens? What do you think?