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Smokeless cigarettes

Smokeless cigarettes
Nearly everyone has heard the old maxim that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Surely, that warning should be kept in mind when it comes to electronic cigarettes, the latest development in a decades-long effort to find safer ways to provide a nicotine fix.
What’s different in this case is that e-cigarettes don’t involve smoking. They are plastic or metal tubes that contain a nicotine solution instead of tobacco, and are inhaled as a battery heats the liquid into a vapor.

The argument that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking cigarettes seems persuasive at this point. The user does not inhale smoke, and the carcinogens in tobacco smoke that cause cancer and heart disease aren’t present. E-cigarettes may at a minimum be a useful tool for heavy smokers who have failed repeatedly in efforts to quit.

At the same time, however, there are plenty of reasons to proceed cautiously and to avoid embracinge-cigarettes as the “next big thing.”

Whatever their pluses and minuses, e-cigarettes are a delivery system for nicotine, a highly addictive drug. As with all addictive substances, nicotine use can create cravings for ever-increasing amounts, and excessive levels of nicotine raise blood pressure and heart rates. Use by pregnant women may increase the chance of a stillborn baby. Moreover, since e-cigarette vapors can be flavored, they may serve to lure young people to nicotine products. And foes of e-cigarettes argue that some nicotine addicts may use them in addition to tobacco.

While not calling for a ban of e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration nevertheless is wise to push for safety studies and to try to prevent companies from making unsubstantiated health claims about e-cigarettes or to use them to deliver drugs other than nicotine.

The best approaches to tobacco and nicotine are still smoking cessation programs and aggressive efforts (including higher tobacco taxes) to discourage young people from using nicotine.


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