Currently, the risks of electronic cigarette use are unknown and emissions from the devices may contain trace amounts of carcinogens and heavy metals, as well as other toxic substances. One should mention, however, that there is evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes might be safer than “traditional cigarettes.” Still, the data is inconclusive and given the current state of research on the use of e-cigarettes, some researchers have been troubled by the increase in the number of students using e-cigarettes and vaporizers such as hookahs.
In fact, a report commissioned by the CDC demonstrated that despite the “statistically significant decreases [that] occurred in the use of cigarettes, cigars, tobacco pipes, bidis, and snus…The increases in the current use of e-cigarettes and hookahs offset the decreases in current use of other tobacco products.” As Dr. Harold J. Faber, a pediatric pulmonologist told Forbes, “E-cigarettes are the hot new thing” much in the same way that traditional cigarettes were years ago.
The L.A. Times continues that the “colorful designs and candy-store flavors,” provide a way for manufacturers of e-cigarettes hope to attract the attention and interest of teens. Unfortunately, experts now fear that these e-cigarettes, which are defined as tobacco products given that most use nicotine, will become the newest “gateway drug,” inspiring young people to move on to traditional cigarettes and more dangerous products.
Not everyone is alarmed or worried about the CDC’s recent study. Many smokers claim e-cigs have helped them kick the cigarette habit. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health said, “The CDC should be celebrating that we’re seeing a decline in youth smoking…It appears that rather than serving as a gateway toward cigarette smoking, e-cigarettes may actually be acting as a diversion away from cigarettes” and Joe Nocera, in an op-ed piece, criticized the CDC for “equating smoking cigarettes with inhaling e-cigarettes.”
Ultimately, the truth of the matter depends on whether or not e-cigarettes are deemed to be a healthy and safe alternative to smoking. Given the infancy of the research, however, the final verdict is unclear.
(Photo courtesy of Chris F)