Friday, August 9, 2013

Do You Use E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are the newest thing in tobacco-less nicotine intake. Many products have been launched and most failed, but the e-cigarettes seem to be here to stay. They're quickly becoming a very lucrative industry and - of course - the tobacco companies have taken notice and are trying to get in on the action as well.

What exactly is an e-cigarette? It's an electronic cigarette that has a small chamber in which you have your nicotine and additives. There's a battery that sets off the device, which produces vapour that you inhale. While many people still call it smoking (a visit to some e-cigarette forums show that even users often call it smoking), people are using the term "vaping" rather to describe the inhalation of the vapour.

As with most things, there are two sides of the story - and maybe a third, who knows for sure? The medical community, in general, doesn't like the e-cigarettes. There are others who feel that e-cigarettes are a great alternative to combustible cigarettes, because users don't get all the additives, such as tar.

I wrote a piece on the safety of e-cigarettes (What Are Electronic Cigarettes and How Safe Are They?) for which I interviewed a lung cancer specialist, as well as an e-cigarette advocate. As a nurse and someone who writes about health, I ended up agreeing with the physician's stance: inhaling vapours of nicotine and other substances isn't healthy. It might be healthIER than smoking a traditional cigarette, but that doesn't make it healthy.

In my mind, it's like saying, "Speeding is dangerous, but if you're going to speed, wear a seatbelt." Smoking is the speeding and e-cigarettes are the seatbelts.

I did receive several comments in response to my article. Not surprisingly, most were against what I wrote. A few were respectful, pointing out where they felt I went wrong, but - as is usually the case - some were angry and not too polite. That's to be expected, I guess. I was surprised though to get a couple of not-so-nice comments to another article I wrote for that same site, More Women Dying of Heart Disease, Yet Men Still Get More Treatment. That surprised me - one of the comments was that the article was just female propaganda. Go figure.

Anyway, back to the e-cigarettes. Do you use one or have you ever used one? What do  you think? Is it the lesser of two evils or is it a legitimate option, in your opinion?