The latest new “tobacco” product which has been in the U.S. market since about 2007, doesn’t even contain tobacco. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are rechargeable or single use. They contain a battery which heats a liquid solution, containing nicotine and sometimes flavoring, into a vapor which is then inhaled. Users mimic cigarette smoking, called vaping, but exhale vapor instead of smoke.
E-cigarette devices are advertised by the electronic cigarette industry as being smarter, cheaper and healthier than cigarettes because the user isn’t inhaling tar or supposedly the thousands of chemicals found in cigarette smoke. But e-cigarettes are not without safety issues. They still provide nicotine which increases the heart rate. And “a study published in Indoor Air from the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut in Germany did find elevated levels of aretic acid, acetone, isoprene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde” in the vapor exhaled by users. However, these claims are being disputed by others much the same way conventional cigarette harm was disputed decades ago. The devices are currently unregulated by the FDA and more scientific studies are needed to ascertain their long-term safety.
E-cigarettes may be new, but the kids are on to it. It’s easy to hide and allows users to use nicotine without smelling like cigarette smoke. It has hundreds of flavorings to choose from including chocolate, menthol and strawberry. Everyone is a target in this new market with crystal, precious metal, and flower covered battery covers appealing to women, and mint-shaped container tins to make concealing the device easier.
In Florida you must be 18 or older to purchase tobacco products but that doesn’t seem to stop the kids from getting e-cigarettes. Of the 26,600 Florida high school students who participated in the 2012 Youth Tobacco Survey, 8.4% had tried electronic cigarettes, an increase of 40.0% over the 2011 numbers.
It’s hard to ignore the e-cigarette craze when advertisements in magazines and on television glamorize celebrities using it. Even though it is marketed as a cession device for adult smokers that is safer than cigarettes, our youth perceive it as a cheap, harmless nicotine product that is safe to use. Sadly, they are becoming the e-cigarette industry lab rats by experimenting with a product that has no long-term, extensive health studies.
For more information on e-cigarettes check out the following:
e-Cigrettes, Vaping: Worse than Smoking Due to Cancer-Causing Components Found in Brands
Electronic Cigarettes Harm the Lungs