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The E-Cigarette Controversy

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 10:22 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, In The Workplace
Tags: Smoking, FDA, E-Cigarettes, Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Smoking Cessation

E-cigarettes are safe say the manufacturers, not so believes the FDA.  

E-Cigarettes May Be Bad For Your Health


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / quit smoking / author: RobHadfield

First of all - what is an E-cigarette? 

It is an electronic cigarette consisting of a metal tube with an atomizer, a battery, and a cartridge filled with liquid nicotine.  A smoker sucks on the tube, a lighted end glows like a real cigarette and the nicotine vaporizes so it is inhaled.  A smoker takes the nicotine in then exhales and a smoke is exhausted, although it doesn’t have a tobacco smell. 

For some smokers, it is an effective tool to cut down on tobacco-filled cigarettes.

But despite their marketing as a smoking cessation device, E-cigarettes are attracting the wrong kind of attention.  The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association are calling for them to be removed from the market.    The groups feel kids may be attracted to the fake cigarettes and they have not been proven safe.

"Anybody who doesn't think this product without any smoke attached to it is orders of magnitude less harmful than cigarettes just has no concept of basic science," says Jack Leadbeater, president and chief executive of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Sottera Inc. said to the Wall Street Journal. 

They sell the Njoy brand of electronic cigarettes.  Most of the e-cigarettes are made in China.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering regulation since they deliver a drug. So far the FDA has refused shipments of 17 cases of e-cigarettes. 

Besides delivering the drug nicotine, e-cigarettes also deliver flavorings, propylene glycol, a sanitizer ingredient. Nicotine is thought to be non-carcinogenic but has been linked to high blood pressure, reports the WSJ. 

For the first time since the mid-1960s, the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has fallen below 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). #


Posted by Electronic Cigarettes
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:04 AM EST

New articles seem to always get half the facts. First off, e-cigarettes can contain zero nicotine and just mimic smoking using propylene glycol (or vegetable glycerin), water, and flavoring. Therefore it can be a device that delivers no drug at all.

Secondly, propylene glycol is not just used in hand lotion, but also in toothpaste, medications, and numerous other products. PG is also recognized as "generally safe for human consumption" by the FDA.

Third; many e-cigarette companies are not marketing the device as a smoking cessation device, but rather as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes (example: LINK ). Tobacco cigarettes are a legal product in the US so why is is necessary that every other nicotine product, or device that mimics cigarettes, be an NRT?

Lastly, the idea that electronic cigarette companies are marketing to kids is baseless. Where is the proof of this claim that the public health organizations are making? There many be some unscrupulous companies who don't verify age before selling, but the majority are very careful to sell to legal age consumers. In fact, in order to become a member of the Electronic Cigarette Association ( LINK ), companies need to ensure their customers are of legal smoking age. The question to ask is why is The American Cancer Society, Tobacco Free Kids, and others against a product that produces no second hand smoke and contains no tobacco? The answer: Pharmaceuticals. Follow the money.

Posted by jean
Thursday, June 04, 2009 4:55 AM EST

Money talking again - the tobacco industry and Big Pharm stand to lose millions if they stop selling their products because people change to alternatives. If carcinagens have been removed these products must be less dangerous, common sense dictates. Here in the UK, the money received from Tax revenue from tobacco products more than pays for the National health service - smokers die younger, therefore the government does not have to pay out pensions either. Tobacco sales are cost effective.

As to NRT, the presently available products have an appalling success rate of les than 2% after one year. If individuals want to see if the new electronic cigarettes help them personally they should be allowed to. We make no claims, but are conducting a survey in association with Tobacco harm Reduction experts and the University of which will run over one year and will publish the results.

Anonymous User
Posted by Gene
Sunday, June 07, 2009 6:58 AM EST

Hey kids! Let's go use a Chinese product (and we all know what sticklers for safety the Chinese are) to flood our lungs with food coloring, propylene glycol, water vapor, and the cancer-promoter nicotine for 30 years. What fun!

And the manufacturers? As soon as the slightest medical trouble shows up, they'll disappear right back into the woodwork, retiring on your money.

Sue them? Every jury in the country will say, "You idiot!"

Anonymous User
Posted by Brad
Sunday, June 07, 2009 9:04 AM EST

Good points, Gene! Let's just sell good old American cigarettes to the kids. We all know how safe they are.

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 08, 2009 11:02 AM EST

Electronic cigarettes -

As you know, you don't even have to target teens for them to be discovered by that set. Word of mouth works nicely!

Does your brand contain no nicotine?

Anonymous User
Posted by Gene
Monday, June 08, 2009 1:18 PM EST

Dumb point, Brad! Even if this were an either/or situation (it's not)--hell, let's take the devil we _don't_ know.

The situation is similar to that of the 50s-70s, when we thought filters or "lights" were safer. As we know now, they actually make cigarettes _more_ harmful.

The tobacco industry, of course, knew all about "compensation."

What does this industry know? What do you know?

Anonymous User
Posted by Shan
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 4:29 PM EST

The author writes in comments: "As you know, you don't even have to target teens for them to be discovered by that set. Word of mouth works nicely!"

Therefore, we must ban everything that can possibly become the fodder of word-of-mouth marketing by teens, correct? I don't see that happening.

As a practical matter, kids are not going to take up e-smoking. The kits run about $60 minimum via the internet... considerably higher from a mall kiosk. They would have to keep buying cartridges, blank carts and/or liquid, and would have to keep a wall charger set up (rather conspicuous) to charge batteries (as you're pretty much charging one battery while using another). There's also a certain amount of equipment maintenance, and not-so-occasional parts replacement (batteries stop holding a charge, atomizers die). In other words, using and maintaining an e-cig, plus obtaining and carrying supplies for it, would be almost impossible if one were attempting to hide it from parents. Really, it's far simpler for kids to obtain, and hide, cigarettes.

The FDA and the various anti-smoking groups are all WAY off base here. Thanks to my e-cig, I'm down to vaping zero-nic liquid after many years of smoking a pack a day of actual tobacco. Apparently they'd prefer I smoke cigarettes, or chew foul-tasting gum or inhale those nasty Nicotrol things, or take a pill. Nope.

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 9:05 PM EST

Hi Shan-

Thanks for your perspective on the prohibitive cost for teens.... not being a fan of e-cigs I wouldn't have considered that.

I am glad to hear they are working for you and you've dropped your pack a day habit. Excellent!

Anonymous User
Posted by Donna
Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:40 PM EST

It's amazing to me at people who comment on a product that they nothing about. As for children, children are naturally attracted to anything we deem "bad" or "not good for you".You can drop that as an excuse.
The truth of the matter is, stopping this product is nothing more than a stall tactic so that the BIG boys, RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and the like, can produce a similar product. This is the first time anything has come along that has actually threatened the tobacco / cigarette companies.
We as a population have been screaming for our rights to not have to sit in a restaurant, bar, shopping mall and inhale second hand smoke. Guess what? Smoking Stinks! It's a nasty habit. Ashes everywhere, butts always littering the ground, cars and clothes stink and lets not forget kissing the ashtray tasting mouth.
We all talk about "going green" cleaning up our environment. You would think that if a product came along that eliminated at the very least, second hand smoke, we would ALL be jumping for joy, NOT trying to stop it because it was thought of and produced by the Chinese.
It's time to stop the prejudices and it's time for all you "save the planet" people to put your money where your mouth is. Stand up for products, regardless of your prejudices, that actually helps our environment.
As for the safety of this nicotine product, the alternative is what? Nicotine PLUS 4000 other dangerous chemicals. You choose! We will never have a totally smoke free America, we can however let those that choose to smoke, keep their bad habit to themselves!
Before you comment back to me about the intake of nicotine, I challenge you to read up on the product and the on-going independent testing that has been going on since 2007! If you are go9ng to comment, at least be educated on the subject.

Anonymous User
Posted by John R
Thursday, July 02, 2009 3:05 AM EST

I purchased an e-cig 'system' about 4 weeks ago, the Npro/Njoy. Within a week I was able to transition from about a pack a day of tobacco cigarettes to what amounts to 7-8 e-cig's a day - over a 50 per cent reduction in nicotine and a 100 per cent reduction in the toxic chemicals that come with the tobacco cigarette.

The online companies I've purchased from have all been straightforward in their advertising of the e-cig as an ALTERNATIVE to tobacco cigarettes. My personal experience leads me to believe that I'll reduce use even further over the next month or so. The change in habit and the results produced from the e-cigarette are significant. The elimination of "smoke" and all of the second-hand fumes is one of the most dramatic differences.

Caffeine and nicotine aren't a direct comparison but I find it rather hypocritical that caffeine can be legally self-administered at very high doses by consumers of all ages without restraint, constriction and most of all, social degradation while nicotine can not.

If nicotine is truly dangerous, use should be restricted and prohibited completely. But it's not. It's taxed.

It's easy to see the dichotomy there and the disingenuous and duplicitous politics at play. Nothing new, but hopefully reason will prevail and a level playing field established to better understand the facts and approach the topic honestly from all sides.

Comments for this article are closed.

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