The war on Electronic Cigarettes: Which Side are you On?

More and more, science is backing the use of e-cigarettes. While there are those that oppose their use, studies are demonstrating the validity of e-cigarettes’ ability to help millions remain smoke-free.

There is a war going on, but you probably don’t even know about it. You won’t find breaking coverage on CNN or your nightly news. The US military isn’t even involved, despite the fact that the death toll could reach into the millions.

It’s the war on e-cigarettes, and it could be putting your family at risk.

The Rise of the E-Cig

For decades, it seemed as though Big Tobacco was untouchable. They had the money, the political pull, and the addictive product to keep their customers coming back for more (until they died of lung cancer, anyway). In the past few years, however, a new contender has joined the race. E-cigarette sales have exploded, and some forecast their sales will surpass those of tobacco based cigarettes within the next ten years. Thousands of people have jumped on the bandwagon. Consumers like them because they offer the taste and feel of smoking, without the actual smoke. Doctors, researchers, and even the American Cancer Society, have all accepted or acknowledged their usefulness in preventing tobacco use (even if begrudgingly).

E-cigarettes use a flavor cartridge, which contains water, propylene glycol (a technical sounding but harmless substance found in many inhaler medications), glycerin, and nicotine. The nicotine is even optional. This liquid, also known as e-liquid or e-juice, is heated by an element to produce vapor. This gives the feel of smoking, even though no actual smoke is produced. Many e-cigs even look like an actual cigarette, lighting up at the end and producing a white vapor which gives the appearance of smoke. However, the vapor is not a product of combustion.

The Opposition

Smoking without the smoke: what’s not to love, right?

Not quite. Many lawmakers are pushing for heavier regulations on e-cigs, citing that there aren’t enough studies to prove that they are safe for public health. Aside from that, tobacco companies are feeling the heat from the e-cig community. They’ve even developed their own electronic cigarettes, although most serious vapers have found their attempts less than impressive. With their own sales in decline due to both, e-cigs and public awareness of tobacco’s dangers, they are scrambling to reclaim their market share.

News Sites have reported that some counties have imposed bans on e-cigs in restaurants and other public spaces already, and more are opting to do the same. Others are pushing for tighter regulations on their sales, even suggesting higher taxes similar to those imposed on tobacco products.

Their reasoning is that e-cigarettes haven’t been around long enough for their long-term safety to be properly assessed, both on the smoker and those around them, in order for them to be deemed safe. While e-cigs are relatively new on the scene, all studies so far have indicated that e-cigarettes are far safer for consumers than traditional cigarettes. While some chemical compounds may be produced during the heating process required for vaporizing, these compounds would still be found in far lower levels than the 7,000 plus chemicals found in traditional tobacco smoke due to combustion.

Anti E-Cig = Public Health Menace?

Despite the opposition, there are many in the medical community who claim that doing away with e-cigarettes could prove detrimental to public health. Even the American Cancer Society has jumped on board to defend e-cigarettes. Restricting their sales will only slow the switch from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Whatever the potential effects, WebMD, The Guardian, and others have reported that e-cigarettes are simply much safer than tobacco products. There is no smoke, so there is no secondhand or third-hand smoke to contend with. The ingredients are safer. Users can even wean themselves off the nicotine slowly if they prefer, making e-cigs an effective quitting aid for millions.

While public health outcries and education campaigns have prevented some young people from lighting up, lung cancer is still the number one cause of cancer related deaths in the US. The majority of these deaths are due to smoking. If these smokers switched to e-cigarettes instead, the number of deaths which could be prevented would likely be in the thousands or more.

The Verdict

Despite any potential risks, which have not been substantiated by science, e-cigarettes are a safer option than analogue cigarettes, and they have been proven to help smokers quit – permanently.