The use of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes has seen a remarkable popularity among both adults and minors since they hit the market in 2006.
A government study indicates a sharp rise in the use of these modern cigarettes by the adolescents.
Notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is mulling over proposing a policy to regulate these battery-powered devices, which turn nicotine-laced liquid into vapor and represent a small but fast-growing alternative to traditional cigarettes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of high-school students who have tried an e-cigarette rose to 10% in 2012 from 4.7% in 2011. Some 2.7 percent of middle school students surveyed had used e-cigarettes in 2012, up from 1.4 percent in 2011. Last year, nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students nationwide tried e-cigarettes, the report said.
Since 2010, more than two dozen states have moved to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors amid an absence of federal oversight. Twenty states have laws banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Some of the states that have laws preventing e-cigarette sales to minors includes- California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
There have been endless debates over the safety of these modern cigarettes. Besides, whether e-cigarettes are good for quitting smoking is also a debatable issue for long time. Most doctors believe they are much safer than real cigarettes since nicotine isn’t the reason smoking causes cancer and lung disease: Tar and other chemicals in tobacco smoke are the real culprits.
What is E-Cigarette?
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are a smoke-free alternative to the traditional paper cigarette. It is comprised of a liquid cartridge attached to a white cylinder containing a battery. The liquid is a mixture of propylene glycol (a common chemical used in many in food products), vegetable glycerin, flavoring and nicotine. The battery heats the liquid into a vapor that the user inhales. Instead of the tradition term ‘smoking’, having e-cigarettes is called “vaping.”
E- cigarettes range from around USD 10 to as much as USD 70 depending upon the manufacturers. Although prices of the complete set of electronic cigarettes vary, pre-filled liquid cartridges usually cost a few dollars. , These cartridges usually last about as long as a pack of regular cigarettes. Flavoured e-liquid are also available for the vaping lovers at a price ranging from a few dollars to more than USD 10 depending on size.
So far, no sincere research has been carried to trace the health effects of inhaling a nicotine-laced vapour. There’s a lot scientists still don’t know about these modernized method of smoking. These include the actual chemical exposure that users receive compared with traditional smokers’ intake; the way vaporized nicotine is absorbed by the body; and the effects of secondhand vapour.
The e-liquids themselves are not required to meet any federal standards, although the FDA is expected to exercise its regulatory authority over the products. For now, e-cigarettes are in a gray area and are not regulated as tobacco products or medical devices, even though they share similarities with both product categories.
Approval by the FDA means that a nicotine product, such as a patch or gum, has met standards of safety and effectiveness, said Dr. Anne Joseph, a tobacco researcher at the University of Minnesota. Joseph adds that electronic cigarettes may not be all bad for current tobacco users, with a couple of important caveats: Nonsmokers shouldn’t start, and e-cigarette consumers should use them only with the goal of quitting.
E-cigarettes could actually help
A new study shows e-cigarettes are comparable to nicotine patches for smokers who want to quit.
In response to the study, Peter Hajek, an anti-smoking expert at Queen Mary University in London called it “pioneering” and suggested e-cigarettes might be recommended to smokers who want to quit or cut down.
“E-cigarettes may not be perfectly safe, but even if some currently unknown risk materializes, they are likely to be orders of magnitude safer than normal cigarettes,” he said.
Need guidelines on e-cigarette: WHO
Meanwhile, seeing the increase in use of e-cigarette among the youth, the World Health Organisation has called on countries to frame regulatory guidelines to keep a tab on their usage.
WHO representative Angela Patt said the size of the e-cigarette market will increase rapidly in coming years, and currently there is little research on the health impact of the long-term use of e-cigarettes.
“The market of e-cigarette has increased to USD 3 billion in the past 12 months, and it is being said that the inevitable future of tobacco lies in e-cigarette,” said Patt, while speaking at the International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century.
Are e-cigarettes a new way to stop smoking or at least stop inhaling tobacco smoke, or an enticing new gateway to nicotine addiction for minors? This new evidence suggests both.