E-Cigarettes Have Exploded in Popularity in Recent Months
As recent research has shown that the number of Americans smoking cigarettes has stagnated over the past decade at about 20%, despite prevention efforts. However, a new device for delivering nicotine and other substances, the “e-cigarettes” has recently soared in popularity. E-cigarettes are relatively unregulated and their popularity is growing like a weed. E-cigarettes do not use tobacco, but rather just look like a conventional cigarette and instead contain a heating coil which vaporizes a liquid, often containing nicotine, which is then inhaled.
One of the most alarming aspects of e-cigarettes is that they are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and very young children. This should have set off some alarm bells at the FDA as the smoking habit is partly related to the physical activity of lighting a cigarettes up and sticking it in your mouth. Even more worrisome, e-cigarettes addict teenagers to nicotine as many youngsters view them as a sophisticated way to smoke, with less health risks. The fact that these vaporizers are called “e-cigarettes” in a way tries to cash in on the popularity of other internet age products like “e-mail” even though the similarity stops with the name.
If I was a tobacco producer and I wanted to get kids hooked on cigarettes without having them choke on smoke, then I probably would invent something just like the e-cigarette.
Perhaps the only redeeming quality of the e-cigarette is that they are not cigarettes, meaning that they supposedly do not contain high quantities of the dozens of different carcinogens and hazardous compounds which are released when a cigarette is smoked.
Does this mean that e-cigarettes are relatively safe?
Many parents are reasonably concerned that smoking e-cigarettes will addict children to nicotine and thus increase the likelihood that they will smoke real cigarettes in the future. Not much is known about the safety of e-cigarettes, though many experts assume that there are health risks which will be identified when they have been studied. Canada has banned them due to the ambiguity, the FDA in the United States has not.
However, cancer causing tobacco impurities have been found in many of the cartridges used in these devices. Meaning that future studies may find that they can increase a person’s risk for cancer and heart disease just like conventional cigarettes.
Sadly, e-cigarettes are widely available to teenagers and young children as they are so new that there are few laws restricting their sale to minors.
Hopefully, legislators will act quickly to close this nicotine loophole that tobacco companies are using to get kids hooked on nicotine.