E-cigarettes May Not Be Less Harmful, Experts Say
Despite the education regarding the effects of tobacco usage, many college students still use tobacco products on a daily basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16.7 percent of adults ages 18-24 regularly use tobacco products. The latest trend among college students is electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). However, many students are unaware that while electronic cigarettes don’t seem as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, there are many risks associated with the habit.
E-cigarettes continue to be more popular among late teens and young adults. Marketing strategies aim to promote the habit as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes. A recent article from The Journal for Respiratory Care Practitioners helps to answer some of the questions about e-cigarettes.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are devices containing a battery, a liquid reservoir and an atomizer that produces an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.
How do e-cigarettes compare to regular cigarettes?
E-cigarettes contain many of the same chemicals found in cigarettes. The liquid used in e-cigarettes contains nicotine, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes. E-cigarettes also contain many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein) and some that are potentially carcinogenic (propylene glycol and propylene oxide.) While the chemical compounds in e-cigarettes are similar to those in cigarettes, studies have shown e-cigarettes produce fewer toxins than cigarettes. However, the toxin levels vary based on each consumer’s level of use.
Are e-cigarettes safe to smoke?
The stance on the safety of e-cigarettes has yet to be determined. Since e-cigarettes are nicotine containing, there is concern about its addictive nature and negative cardiovascular effects. There are products labeled as nicotine-free that actually contain nicotine, so labels can be misleading. In addition, while e-cigarettes produce fewer toxins than cigarettes, the long-term effects of e-cigarette toxin levels have yet to be determined. All in all, the jury is still out on the safety of e-cigarettes. Research also does not support the use of e-cigarettes as an aid in smoking cessation. In fact, it can reinforce the addictive behavior of smoking and negative health consequences.
For more information on tobacco cessation, or to receive materials on how to quit using tobacco products, come to the Great American Smokeout on November 17 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Unity Plaza.