Ban on E-cigarette Smoking May Be Warranted

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Recent news reports tell us that Wales could very well become the first in the United Kingdom to extend the ban on smoking in public places to include the controversial electronic cigarettes - also known as e-cigarettes.

According to information from a special report by Consumer Reports on Health, such a ban may be warranted in light of lack of any proof demonstrating that e-cigarettes are truly safe and may be harmful not only to smokers, but people exposed to e-cigarette secondhand vapor as well.

On the 7th anniversary of their public smoking ban, government officials in Wales are concerned about the dangers of e-cigarettes and its potential impact on public health. They believe that e-cigarettes will undermine the public cigarette smoking ban and will lead to increasing numbers of people becoming addicted to smoking.

According to statements attributed to Health Minister Mark Drakeford by the BBC News:

"I have concerns about the impact of e-cigarettes on the enforcement of Wales' smoking ban. That's why we are proposing restricting their use in enclosed public places."

"I am also concerned that their use in enclosed public places could normalize smoking behavior."

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimize the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug."

As it turns out, concerns of nicotine addiction are warranted with e-cigarettes due to that e-cigarettes remain a nicotine delivery device as it is with their predecessor pre-ban tobacco cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes differ markedly in that they reportedly do not result in exposing the smoker or a passerby to carbon monoxide or particle pollutants that are carcinogens in the smoke.

How e-cigarettes work is that as a user puffs on one end, a tiny electronic device in the e-cigarette becomes activated and heats up a nicotine cartridge. The contents of the cartridge become atomized into a vapor that is then inhaled and thereby supposedly only exposing the smoker to nicotine. The remaining vapor evaporates away without any smoke exposure to others.

But are these benefits to e-cigarettes really real?―asks Consumer Reports on Health. According to their special report, their findings reveal the following two facts and concerns:


E-cigarette Fact #1: E-cigarettes do not appear to help break a smoking habit

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Consumer Reports on Health discusses two studies concerning the effectiveness of e-cigarettes on helping smokers quit smoking.

The first study is one from New Zealand involving 657 smokers that showed that there were only minor differences in effectiveness comparing e-cigarettes with nicotine patches or with non-nicotine placebo e-cigarettes.

The second study was performed by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco who looked at data from 75,643 South Korean teenagers and found that those who used e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking were less successful and wound up actually smoking even more tobacco cigarettes while trying to quit.

E-cigarette Fact #2: E-cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke (vapor) may not be as safe as touted

In a comparison of exhaled vapor from 3 brands of e-cigarettes with exhaled tobacco smoke, researchers found that e-cig vapor contains only 1/10 of the nicotine and no carbon monoxide or particle pollutants.

However, many other brands of e-cigarettes do contain more nicotine than tobacco cigarettes. Furthermore, earlier research cites other pollutant concerns from e-cig vapor that includes the solvents propylene glycol and formaldehyde.

On top of the organic solvent concerns, manufacturers are not required to list what Consumer Reports on Health label as “mystery ingredients” that could be harmful as well.

The experts from Consumer Reports on Health close their special report with the recommendation that until more is known regarding the safety of e-cigarettes that they should be avoided and that smokers wanting to quit smoking should employ other proven smoking cessation methods such as behavioral counseling, nicotine replacement products and prescription non-nicotine medication with counseling from a physician.

For an informative article about the 5 most common e-cigarette problems, click on the titled link, “Consumer Reports Warns Buyers about the 5 Most Common E-Cigarette Problems.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

References:

BBC News Wales: “E-cigarettes face curb in public places in Wales”

Consumer Reports on Health: “Clearing the Air about E-cigarettes” April 2014 issue

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Comments

There are so many errors, misstatements, distortions, half-truths, and baseless innuendos in this article that one scarcely knows where to begin in refuting them. 1. "E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimize the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug." Many decades of research have been done on nicotine (which, it should be noted, is a normal part of the human diet, naturally occurring in tomatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, cocoa beans, and a wide variety of other vegetable sources aside from tobacco), none of which has established that nicotine itself, when administered by a different delivery system than the combustion of tobacco leaves, creates addiction or dependence or has a high potential for abuse. In fact, no study has ever succeeded in creating nicotine dependence in a person who never smoked by means of a non-smoke delivery system. 2. "E-cigarettes do not appear to help break a smoking habit" This will come as a great shock to the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people, many of them lifelong, heavy smokers, who have succeeded in kicking the habit through the use of e-cigs. While anecdotal evidence is not authoritative, it also must not be ignored, especially when it overwhelmingly points in one direction. There are a variety of forums on the internet where innumerable stories are shared by people (myself included) who abandoned tobacco once and for all with the help of these devices, and who will never go back to it as long as they live. On the other hand, I have yet to hear a single story (and believe me, I've looked) of a person who wound up smoking MORE cigarettes because they started using e-cigs, or of a person who had never smoked and wound up as a nicotine addict because of them. Moreover, the citation of the New Zealand study is done in an extremely misleading manner, since the smokers in that study didn't necessarily have any desire to quit. They simply gave e-cigs to a bunch of randomly selected smokers and then acted like it was a noteworthy fact that most of them hadn't quit smoking a year later. The problem with extrapolating these results into a conclusion like "e-cigs don't help smokers quit" should be so obvious that it doesn't require detailed explanation. 3. "E-cigarette smoke secondhand smoke (vapor) may not be as safe as touted" Though the author didn't come out and say so (for obvious reasons), the study he cited in making this claim was from 2009, and the liquid they tested came from some fly-by-night Chinese manufacturer that isn't even in business any longer. The ingredients in American-made e-liquid are right there on the label, they're all approved for human consumption by the FDA, and the emissions therefrom have been found to contain a level of toxins effectively indistinguishable from those present in normal human exhalations and ambient air. If you live in an urban environment, the vehicle exhaust you breathe every day poses a greater danger to your health than 10,000 lifetimes of e-cig use. As for propylene glycol, the authors apparently don't know (or they conveniently fail to mention) that it's used in the ventilation systems of every hospital in the western world as a means of mitigating the transmission of viruses and pathogens. 4. "smokers wanting to quit smoking should employ other proven smoking cessation methods such as behavioral counseling, nicotine replacement products and prescription non-nicotine medication with counseling from a physician." This is a real doozy, since the "proven" nicotine replacement products to which the author refer each have failure rates in excess of 95%, and the pharmaceutical aids, in addition to having a similar rate of failure, carry with them a cornucopia of serious side effects up to and including suicide. I urge anyone who might read this not to be taken in by this type of hysterical, ill-informed fear mongering. Your government doesn't want you to quit smoking because they like their tobacco tax revenue. The pharmaceutical industry doesn't want you to quit smoking so you keep having a reason to try their expensive, ineffective, often dangerous smoking cessation products. Make your own choices about your own health. If you smoke tobacco, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop smoking it. If e-cigs give you the best chance of doing so, let nothing dissuade you from trying them.