Hello SOTGC community,
I hope everyone has had a happy and healthy new year so far. I’ve been encouraged to make e-cigarettes the health topic of conversation this week. It is, by the way, the 50th anniversary this year since the surgeon general issued the first report linking tobacco use with cancer. My goodness, just look at how far we have come since then! Or have we…Let’s talk about smoking and e-cigarettes…what are they? Will they provide a solution or simply prolong or even worsen the current smoking crisis?
The Facts: E-cigarettes were invented in China and introduced about 5 years ago to the US. They allow smokers to inhale nicotine through battery powered pipes that look and feel like real cigarettes. The anatomy of the e-cigarette is comprised of a nicotine solution suspended in propylene glycol and a small heating element which is activated when the user inhales the through the pipe. E-cigarettes release nicotine in a vapor form rather than through burning tobacco. E-cigarette manufacturers claim that the nicotine vapors do not contain the toxic chemicals that result in smoking related illnesses. Studies on the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes are still inconclusive.
The Good: Even without e-cigarettes, smoking rates have dropped significantly in this country. American adult smoking rates fell from 43% in 1964 to just 18% in 2012. Smoking has been widely banned in bars, parks, restaurants, and public transportation. Health experts are cautiously optimistic that the introduction of e-cigarettes and other non-combustible smoking alternatives may contribute to an overall reduction in cigarette smoking. However, the surgeon general’s latest report suggests the need for more research and regulation.
The Bad: Cigarettes still kill about 500,000 Americans each year and another 16 million live with smoking related illnesses. Smoking costs our nation roughly $289 billion each year and is linked to diabetes, cancer, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, and many other ailments we are all too aware of. Most life-long smokers get addicted to nicotine in adolescence and e-cigarettes are gaining momentum within this population. Sales of e-cigarette equipment to minors are banned in about half of US states but these items are easily purchased online. “Vape shops” sell nicotine cartridges in all different flavors, including chocolate, and e-cigarettes are also sold at pot dispensaries because nicotine is not the only substance that can be inhaled through electric pipes.
Healthier always seems to be the right way to go but do we really want to start bad habits when we have come so far? What do you think? Have a great week readers!