The first time I ever heard about about an E-Cigarette (electronic cigarette) or even saw one was at a party. A buddy of mine Kyle had what looked like a black pen in his mouth that he was sucking on. We were all standing around smoking and suddenly as he sucked on this pen a blue light at the end of it lit up and what looked like smoke came out of his mouth. Whoa! What the hell is that? myself and others exclaimed. He said it’s an e-cigarette and he bought it online as a way to help himself quit smoking.
He then began to tell us about how it works. He said it uses a battery to heat up a liquid inside that turns into vapor. That vapor is what he was inhaling. He said it’s basically like water vapor, it has no apparent smell and doesn’t stick to your clothes or body like smoke does. He also said it’s safer for you because it doesn’t have all the other stuff in it that cigarettes have. It has nicotine in it, but over time he can dial down the amount of nicotine to 0 and still have the vapor and all the physical habitual aspects of smoking. That’s why he was using it as a way to help him quit smoking.
Well, I would be lying if I said we all weren’t skeptical. We certainly were. How do you know what you’re inhaling isn’t worse for you? We all laughed about it and that was pretty much it.
Months went by and I hadn’t thought about it again until my boss at work told me she was thinking about getting an e-cigarette and different pipes for every cigar I smoke. I made a comment to her about how they’re probably worse then real smoking. After I made that comment I realized it was pretty ignorant for me to say that. Afterall I didn’t really know anything about them. I had seen Kyle with one, but without ever trying it myself or looking up any info about it, I had created a negative opinion about them because they were different. So I decided to do some research.
I’ve spent the last week and half doing some pretty extensive online research. I’ve discovered that in fact Kyle was pretty much right. E-Cigarettes use three pieces to make them work. A rechargeable battery, an atomizer and a cartridge filled with what is called e-liquid. When all three pieces are assembled an e-cigarette looks like a regular cigarette. At least most types of them do. However there are several different types. For instance Kyle had a type called a “pen style” e-cigarette. Which is probably why we all though it was a pen at first.
What happens is, when fully assembled the sucking pressure at one end signals the battery to charge the atomizer. The atomizer then heats up the “e-liquid” in the cartridge which turns it into vapor and gets inhaled by the user. It’s actually pretty simple. The e-liquid and vapor are made up of three ingredients “flavoring, propylene glycol and nicotine.” But nicotine is optional. Propylene glycol is a common additive to food, toothpaste, medicine, tobaccoÂ and other products such as deodorant sticks. So we already use that everywhere. The flavors the same type used to flavor foods.
It turns out there is a growing community of people using e-cigarettes and they are gaining popularity. This community doesn’t like to call it smoking. Instead they call it “vaping” because it’s not really smoke, it’s vapor and smoking has such a negative stance in today’s society. In fact many who start vaping e-cigs stop using regular cigarettes (which they call analogs) altogether. As a result many report that a lot of the symptoms of smoking decrease. They are able to breath better, smell things again, have more energy and not smell like smoke or bother people with their smoking. They also love the fact that they can use their e-cigarettes pretty much anywhere smoking isn’t allowed. Because they don’t produce smoke and don’t bother people the way smoke does. The vapor doesn’t stick to anything, it doesn’t smell and it dissipates into the air more readily.
Sounds great right? Sounds like a perfect solution for smokers and nonsmokers alike. Except there is one problem. The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t have enough data about e-cigarettes and they don’t like that they can’t seem to control the amount of nicotine in them. Or at least not yet. The FDA isn’t convinced they are safe enough. As a result, earlier this year the FDA has banned the importation of e-cigarettes into the United States.
Here’s the problem, Cigarettes kill 400,000 people a year. Cigarettes contain over 4000 active ingredients including tar, carcinogens and more. Many of these ingredients are linked to lung cancer. Ingredients that are not found in e-cigarettes. Basically the FDA and other world health organizations have taken the stance that they don’t know enough about e-cigarettes in the long term to know if they are completely safe. What? Of course they aren’t completely safe. But regular cigarettes are far worse and are readily sold all over the world. As a result many countries including Australia, Brazil and Israel have already banned the sale and procession of e-cigarettes based on the FDA’s shaky stance on the matter. Even though they allow cigarette sales to continue. The only country so far who has taken a positive stance on e-cigarettes is New Zealand, being this one of the many advantages of living in New Zealand, since shipping household items to New Zealand during a move is easy using online moving services for this. They did a little more extensive studies on the devices and concluded that e-cigarettes are a “safe alternative to smoking.”
Listen folks, I think it’s been proven that you can keep raising prices on cigarettes and people will still keep buying them. They aren’t ever going to go away. If they become outlawed people will start selling them on the black market the way they do marijuana. If we have a better alternative to cigarettes that smokers will accept and nonsmokers can live with, why not embrace it? Why does it have to be an all or nothing stance? Surely there is a middle ground and e-cigarettes seem to be it. We may not know the long term health affects of such devices, but we do know that the short term affects are positive and seem to be no more dangerous and probably much less dangerous then analog cigarettes.
From some of the comments I’ve been getting I don’t think I stressed a certain point enough. E-Cigarettes are not being sold as “quit smoking” devices. In fact both the government and the ECA (Electronic Cigarette Association) are against retailers using such terms in their marketing. E-Cigarettes are considered an “alternative” to smoking. As a result they should only be sold to people who are of legal age to smoke.
That said, because e-cigarettes are also available without nicotine (as an option), some people have used them as a way to tapper off their smoking habit and rid themselves of their addiction to nicotine. But most people use them as an alternative to regular cigarettes.