Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices designed for the purpose of delivering nicotine to users in vapor instead of smoke. These devices are made to resemble regular tobacco cigarettes, pipes or even discrete items such as pens or USB sticks. The idea is to simulate the act of tobacco smoking by generating a slightly seasoned vapor.
There are currently over 250 e-cigarette brands in the market and they may come in a big variety of designs but have 3 common basic parts:
1. a cartridge holding a liquid solution containing the nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals
2. a heating device or a vaporizer
3. a power source which is usually a battery
Puffing the device activates the battery and powers the heating device. The heat boils the liquid solution and transforms it into vapor and the vapor is then inhaled (also called vaping).
There is very little known about the health risk of using e-cigarettes. They appear to be safer, less harmful alternative to conventional cigarettes. They are even promoted as such, but the truth is although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals.
Adverse incidents related to e-cigarettes have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including hospitalizations for pneumonia and heart failure, second degree burns. Some of their health effects include coughing and mouth and throat irritation. Negative effects on lung functions have also been recorded.
Surprising Facts About E-Cigarettes
Despite the lack of health information about e-cigarettes, they continue to be accepted by a lot of people with no reservations. Here are some surprising facts:
1. The e-cigarette was invented in the 1960’s, but it became popular only recently. Currently, there are in excess of 250 brands of e-cigarettes and they are available in young people’s candy flavors, and come in more colors than the latest iPhone model. There is no telling after a few more years what age range these e-cigarettes will be targeting next.
2. These e-cigarettes have not been completely assessed in technical studies. Currently, there are very little data that exist regarding the safety of e-cigarettes, and users have no way of knowing whether there are any beneficial effects or how its effect on health compare to smoking regular cigarettes.
3. A contemporary investigation showed that there is a high probability that students who have used e-cigarettes before their 9th grade will start smoking regular cigarettes and other regular tobacco products soon after.
4. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found close to 1.8 million young people had experimented with e-cigarettes and the number of U.S. middle and high school students e-smokers have more than doubled in recent years. (3)
5. Refill bottles for e-cigarettes are found to contain 10-20 mg of nicotine. Meanwhile, there is great apprehension about the possibility of children accidentally consuming the fatal dose of 10 mg from refill bottles from their homes.
6. In some countries, e-cigarettes are controlled as medicines which are available only in pharmacies. For others, selling, importing, and marketing e-cigarettes are restricted, and some even implement complete bans in their countries. Federal regulation of e-cigarettes in the U.S. is strongly supported and may enable fuller assessment of ingredients, health harms, and any possible health benefits.
Because of the lack of clear and sufficient information surrounding the benefits and risks of using e-cigarettes, the public is advised to wait until further findings are published about their safety.