E-cigarettes have become very popular in the last few years. Many people see them as a healthier alternative to conventional smoking. Yet e-cigarettes, also known as e-cigs and smokeless tobacco, are also controversial. Doctors and other health professionals disagree on the health risks that might be associated with this new type of smoking.
People seeking treatment for addiction to smoking or drugs may believe that e-cigs can help them overcome their habits. Yet it’s still not clear whether e=cigarettes are truly healthier than ordinary smoking. As more teens and young adults turn to this type of smoking, it becomes increasingly important to address these issues.
Popularity of E-Cigarettes
One reason for the concern about the health risks of e-cigarettes is their soaring popularity, especially among younger smokers. According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014. In fact, recent CDC statistics reveal that middle and high school students are now smoking more e-cigarettes than traditional tobacco products.
This suggests that many young people who would otherwise smoke conventional cigarettes see electronic smoking as a healthier alternative. Of course, another reason for this could be that teens see e-smoking as cool and trendy. With flavors such as bubble gum and cotton candy, the industry is obviously targeting younger smokers.
Health Risks of E-Cigarettes
When they first came out, e-cigarettes were marketed as a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes. They were also touted as a way for smokers to give up their addictive habit. Yet, there is mounting evidence that e-cigarettes carry health risks of their own and that this type of smoking may also be addictive.
Perhaps the most important single fact to remember about e-cigarettes is that they contain nicotine, just like conventional cigarettes. Nicotine is what makes smoking addictive. It has also been connected with many health risks, including heart disease. The argument that e-cigarettes are safe stems from the fact that this type of smoking does not involve burning the nicotine. Some researchers, such as a team at the American Chemical Society believe that e-cigs are just as addictive as traditional cigarettes. Nicotine can be harmful no matter how it is ingested. Proof of this can be seen by the fact that the CDC has recently reported increased cases of nicotine poisoning caused by e-cigarettes.
In addition to the nicotine, the flavorings used in e-cigarettes may pose health risks. Some of the liquids used in these substances may cause serious lung problems, such as bronchiolitis obliterans, which can be fatal. Another problem with this mostly unregulated industry is that there are so many different brands and flavors of e-cigs, each with its own particular risks. For example, one study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that e-cigarettes with certain flavorings, such as banana pudding, caused lung problems.
E-Cigarettes May Pose Dangers to Young People
Because e-cigarettes are a recent phenomenon, there is not yet enough research on them to make definitive statements about their safety. Yet it is clear that there are potential risks involved with e-cigs. Additionally, because of their nicotine content, they can cause addiction.
Due to widespread educational campaigns and treatment programs, fewer young people are smoking traditional cigarettes and curbing their use of many drugs. Yet health experts are concerned that so many young people are now using e-cigs instead. While the government places strict regulations on advertising for conventional cigarettes, these regulations do not apply to e-cigarettes. Many people want to change this, especially as the industry seems to be specifically targeting teens and younger smokers.