In 1964 the first Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health was published linking cigarette smoking as “the principal cause of cancer of the lungs and the larynx, and a health hazard so grave as to call for remedial action.” Nicotine was mentioned as a reinforcing factor in the drive to smoke, but it was viewed as a habit rather than an addiction. Now 50 years and 31 Surgeon General’s Reports later we have a better understanding of the harm caused by smoking and know that nicotine plays an important part in adding to that harm.
Whether you light up a traditional cigarette, cigar or pipe, or inhale vapor from one of the many new electronic devices, you are inhaling a toxic substance called nicotine. It “takes just 4 seconds to reach your blood stream and about 10 seconds for it to reach the brain.” And by altering the design of the cigarette which increased “the amount of nicotine levels delivered via smoke” by as much at 15% between 1998 and 2012, the tobacco industry was able to make it more difficult for smokers to kick their habit.
Each and every time you inhale nicotine, your brain is releasing dopamine or epinephrine, your heart rate is increasing, your blood pressure is increasing and your blood vessels are being constricted or narrowed. The effects hit you fast and wear off quickly, making you reach for the drug delivery system again. Over time your body develops a tolerance to nicotine and you need to increase the dosage, or smoke more to get the same enjoyment. While the effects of nicotine on your body wear off, the effects on your heart and blood pressure could leave you with congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and hypertension or high blood pressure.
E-cigarettes may not have all the chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, but nicotine is still present and could cause heart problems. E-device users have the added potential of inhaling the mist that is produced by the device deep into their lungs which could cause pneumonia. And since e-devices are not currently regulated by the FDA, users do not know the amount of nicotine they are receiving, as well as what other added chemicals are in the cartridge, and what is in the flavorings.
Big tobacco is stepping up their efforts to hook new users into a life-long addiction with novelty products and promises they are safe. Sounds like the same tactics they used with cigarettes, and look how long it took before the truth came out. If smoking without harm sounds too good to be true, it probably is.