A closer eye needed on e-cigarettes

Courtesy of MCT

Courtesy of MCT


Usually, at least I hope, most people who smoke cigarettes know how bad it is for them.

If people don’t realize smoking is bad for them, here is some information that may make them think twice before taking another puff of a cigarette. About 443,000 people die every year from the adverse health effects from smoking cigarettes; more deaths are caused by tobacco use than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, car accidents, suicides and murders combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The health risks that come with smoking cigarettes can inspire many people to quit. Many concerned smokers looking for a healthier lifestyle are tempted to try any gimmick out there that might help them quit for good.

One of those gimmicks is electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine through vapor. Manufacturers of various e-cigarettes claim it helps people quit smoking.

However, there is no definitive proof of that.

The device has recently been under fire for needing more regulation by the Food and Drug Administration due to a boost in people who use it. A new study by the CDC has found that in 2011, about 21 percent of adults who smoke tobacco have also used electronic cigarettes, according to NACSOnline.com.

Smoking an e-cigarette may or may not be as bad as smoking a regular cigarette, but the device is still unhealthy and not the best alternative for people wanting to quit smoking. The FDA should take a deeper look into how e-cigarettes are regulated and how manufacturers might market the device towards children.

Many consumers have no idea what type of substances are going into their body since there is almost no regulation on e-cigarettes or the composition of the liquids used in them.

According to the FDA’s website, “e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans, and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe.”

Meanwhile, e-cigarette manufacturers seem to be in no hurry to alert consumers of the ingredients in the devices, especially after seeing an increase in sales.

“Manufacturers have exploited this regulatory loophole to aggressively market e-cigarettes, often with claims that they can help smokers quit or that they are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes,” said Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

E-cigarettes and the mysterious contents in them have not been studied enough to determine if they have long-term, negative health effects. Besides that, there are no studies to prove e-cigarettes actually assist smokers in quitting.

But, a recent study in Greece did find that e-cigarettes can alter a smoker’s lung function in minutes. Researchers found that after five minutes puffing on an e-cigarette, users showed signs of airway obstruction and inflammation, according to Reuters.

“More studies on the long-term effects are needed,” Constantine Vardavas, lead researcher of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Reuters Health.

Another problem with e-cigarette regulation is that manufacturers are able to alter the device’s look and taste to appeal to a younger crowd. Although they resemble a traditional cigarette, the various solutions available for these devices are available in fruit and candy flavors that appeal to children.

“The familiar appearance and enticing flavors could actually encourage kids to try traditional cigarettes, rather than avoid them,” said Chris Hansen, president of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

People can quit smoking at any age and there are many alternatives to help. E-cigarettes are not the only option and are not the best solution for beating a life-long addiction to tobacco.

I’m in no way suggesting that quitting cigarettes is a simple thing to do. However, there are many resources out there to ease temptations and don’t involve putting more foreign substances in your body. Websites such as TobaccoFree.org aim to help smokers quit in a healthful way. The site suggests a number of ways to stop smoking for good, including smokers accepting that they need help, trying to go cold turkey and breathing techniques.

Nicotine Anonymous’ 12-step program is an additional tool for smokers who want to talk with other people trying to quit. The program is modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous program, where the first step is admitting to yourself that you have no control over tobacco use.

It’s important for e-cigarettes to be regulated because smokers may become addicted to the device, alongside a traditional cigarette. The effects of smoking both are unknown and products shouldn’t be sold without proper studies being done on them.

“If large numbers of adult smokers become users of both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes—rather than using e-cigarettes to quit cigarettes completely—the net public health effect could be quite negative,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC.

Before smoking a regular or electronic cigarette, find out first how harmful it is to your health. Until we have the proper statistics, don’t become a statistic yourself.

About Kristen Cervantes

Krissy is finally graduating this semester from Cal State Fullerton. She is majoring in communications/print journalism and is excited to be an editor for the first time after spending two semesters on the Daily Titan staff. When she's not at home chasing her 20-month-old daughter around, she enjoys shopping and going to Disneyland with her husband and family. After graduation, she hopes to land a job with a magazine or newspaper and eventually have a successful career as an editor and columnist.