In a world where the dirty facts about smoking are common sense, the tobacco industry has come along with what they claim is a healthier “alternative” to cigarettes, but the validity of this promotion remains to be seen. An electronic cigarette, or “e-cig”, is a battery-charged cigarette that emits a vapor instead of smoke. A typical e-cig kit includes rechargeable batteries, an atomizer to emit the vapor and cartridges. The cartridge is where the nicotine is held, so smokers are going through the motions of smoking a real cigarette.
According to ecigaretteschoice.com “E-cigarettes have about the same amount of TSNAs (tobacco specific nitrosamines) as in FDA approved Nicotine Replacement Therapy products.” If the answer for smoking is a revolutionary product with the absence of tar and tobacco, then why does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagree?
On Sept. 9, the FDA sent out warning letters to five distributors of electronic cigarettes stating that these companies are marketing the product in a way that will entice younger non-smokers to try this nicotine-filled invention. The companies attract the younger crowd by having their product come in different flavors (chocolate, mint and blueberry) and aren’t sold with any age restrictions. The e-cigarettes also fail to come with any FDA approval or health warnings.
The e-cigarette business is actually reversing the strides of the anti-tobacco campaigns. According to Dr. Philip Brewer, the resident physician at the Quinnipiac Health Center, the e-cigs are actually increasing the number of younger smokers.
“Before it was unacceptable to emit smoke. Everywhere was no smoking, so it cut back on smokers,” Brewer said. “Now it can become socially acceptable again with products like the e-cigarettes.”
Brewer believes that little good can come from this product.
“It’s like someone is saying here is a smaller hand grenade; since it is smaller, it must be safer,” he said.
Due to the nicotine content, the e-cigs are not as safe as the distributors describe. Nicotine is an addictive stimulant that was once used as an insecticide and side effects range from an increase in blood pressure and heart rate to higher risk of strokes or heart attacks.
So how can the electronic cigarette business become FDA approved? Brewer says the problem with the invention is that not only do the e-cigs contain nicotine, but they’re also being marketed as a consumer product for the general public. He believes that this product does have potential for people who are having difficulties quitting smoking. The e-cigs should be marketed toward people who already have smoking addictions and should be monitored like a drug.