Don’t get burned by smokeless cigarettes

electronic cigaretteWhere there’s smoke, there’s fire; but you can still get burned with smokeless, say critics of electronic cigarettes.  They look just like a teensy personal sheesha pipe. You’d guess it’s safe, right? Think again.

Invented in the 1960’s, they went mainstream in the last decade. The, battery-operated substitutes designed to look like regular smokes but functional without tobacco.  These atomizers are loaded with nicotine-laced liquid that, when heated, turns to inhalable vapor – usually flavored – delivering their chemical cocktail directly to the lungs.  Exhaled vapor looks like smoke, but lacks tobacco by-products.

Recent headlines have undermined manufacturer claims that the e-cigarette is a healthy, environmental alternative to cigarettes.

A new study on actual smoking suggests the dangers are far worse than just lung cancer. Maybe e-cigarettes are the stepping stone to freedom?

It’s hard to say.

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed samples of two popular brands finding variable amounts of nicotine and trace carcinogens. Last month, a French court ruled that e-cigarettes qualify as tobacco products and can only be sold by licensed tobacconists –  bad news for the country’s specialist e-cigarette sellers.

Big tobacco companies have been releasing their own branded versions, viewing e-cigs as a lucrative new market (ABC News reports that the devices will net $1 billion in profits this year in the US alone).  In America, the devices are not taxed as ordinary cigarettes and are not subject to strict tobacco laws.  Meanwhile, France plans to ban use in public places and all related advertising.

Here in Jordan, where I’ve been choked by cigarette smoke in taxis, in the workplace toilets, and in doctors’ consultation offices, I thought a trend towards smokeless smokes would be a breath of clean air.  Advocates boast  reduced health risks for users and bystanders, suggesting that low chemical levels in exhaled vapor eliminate the dangers of passive smoking.

But while they aren’t as toxic as regular cigarettes, they’re not exactly safe, and they’re not regulated by overseeing bodies (like the FDA). Manufacturers have no legal responsibility to be transparent about their ingredients.  Tests of e-cig vapor revealed the presence of the formaldehyde and acrolein. Their fluids contain high levels of nicotine, a substance ranked third in terms of addictiveness after heroin and cocaine.

And they tend to prolong addiction as they allow smokers to sidestep strict anti-smoking policies and continually “light up” in places where real smoking is banned, such as airplanes and offices.

Dr. Feras Hawari, Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care and Director of the Cancer Control Office at the King Hussein Cancer Center stated on their website, “Smokers need to be aware that even if they transition to e-cigarettes, when the cartridge is empty and they don’t have access to another, they are likely to go back to smoking cigarettes again to get their nicotine fix.

“The best solution is to quit all forms of smoking permanently to detoxify your body from nicotine.”

Hawari’s greatest concern is that they make smoking look “normal” and socially acceptable, undermining the kingdom’s efforts to expose smoking for the dangerous habit that it is. “When you smoke e-cigarettes in front of children, who learn by observing, you are still promoting smoking as a cool habit. Children don’t know the difference between an e-cig and an actual one”. Last May, an Israeli toddler died from ingesting e-cigarette fluid.

If you are a smoker looking to quit, tap into tools and counseling offered by the Smoking Cessation Center Clinic at the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman. For more information on how to make an appointment with the clinic, click here.

Given the relative newness of electronic cigarettes, long-term health effects are still unknown.  Until potential risks are better known, stay safe and say no to smokeless.

Image of a man smoking an e-cigarette from Shutterstock

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3 thoughts on “Don’t get burned by smokeless cigarettes”

  1. For the Milwaukee Bucks center, see Ervin Johnson..If you are someone who is looking for a practices as an owner operator. He began his “real world” clinical experiences while traveling to many pick the carrots, grab them firmly by the root and wiggle them around in their hole

  2. Anna says:

    I should probably mention my sense of taste and smell has greatly improved. My blood pressure levels are low. I no longer have trouble breathing when I climb a flight of stairs. My doctor approves though not all do.

    Sadly some doctors don’t know all the facts surrounding tobacco use and they believe that nicotine is what causes cancer. But, you will not find one study to support this claim.

    I would like to see long term studies about the risks of ecigs and I will be able to in one or two more years when that data is available.

  3. Anna says:

    Sigh. Another story spun to distort the truth. Do yourselves a favor and do your own research if your thinking about trying ecigs. I did and I’m happy to say I found positive peer reviewed studies with which to base my decision on whether to use them or not.

    I started using ecigs in September and stopped smoking tobacco with it’s 4000 plus dangerous chemicals. Don’t believe everything you read. The one study the author refers to was paid for by the anti-smoking advocates who say the only option is to quit or die. There’s formaldehyde in carpeting, home and office insulation. But did the study measure those chemicals *before* they did the study? You decide. So is quit or die the only option left to smokers? No, that’s no longer true. There’s Swedish Snus, and other harm reduction products smokers can use now to stop smoking tobacco with.

    There is nothing that is 100% risk free. But ecigs are about harm reduction. The author suggests our children will think we’re smoking tobacco. I believe it’s up to us as parents to educate our children, and not the government. I know how to explain the difference between burning tobacco & smoke, and electronic cigarettes that produce vapor.

    I chose ecigs because it works for me and I enjoy the Nicotine. Studies show Nicotine is no more harmful than caffeine. But anti-smoker groups would like you to believe otherwise because they are backed by and paid for by big pharma. Big pharma needs to have ecigs banned so they can continue to make profits from their ineffective NRT products.

    Just ask a smoker who’s tried the patch, gum, or worse, Chantix. They’ll tell you it didn’t help them to quit. People who tried Chantix, or their loved reported 500 suicides, and countless other chronic health conditions such as strokes following the use of Chantix to the FDA. But did the FDA ban Chantix? No. You have to wonder why they continue to let this product be on the market. Look up Chantix on WebMD to read about the side effects.

    It’s hard to think about the FDA or other health organizations not having our best interests at heart. But when more studies prove ecigs are 99% less harmful than tobacco and yet they continue to use fear mongering to keep people smokers from trying them it’s difficult to come to a different conclusion

    Every state receives millions of dollars from a tobacco settlement that is supposed to be used for health related conditions caused by tobacco. But, only 14% goes for this. The rest is used for other things the state considers more important.

    For every smoker every city receives thousands of dollars in cigarette taxes. They simply can’t afford to lose that money. Especially with cities are struggling due to the economy.

    Please be your own decision maker. I did. And now I’ve not smoked over 6000 cigarettes and saved $4000.00 dollars in a little over 3 months.

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