by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
Well, we all know the damage common cigarettes can do to the human body, but now comes the debate over e-cigarettes. E-Cigarettes are battery operated products that look like real cigarettes but turn liquid nicotine into a vapor inhaled by the user. They came onto the market a decade ago and are said to be a less harmful alternative to the real thing. Not only that, they come in flavors like cinnamon, vanilla, and cherry... yummy!
In a recent study, the e-cigarette was said to be just as effective as the nicotine patch in helping smokers "kick the habit." Among smokers who hadn’t managed to quit on their own, 60% of those using e-cigarettes had cut down on the number of real cigarettes smoked by at least half versus 41% of those using nicotine patches. While the e-cigarette is touted as a safer alternative, it still has one thing in common with real cigarette: giving the user breathing problems.
The European Union and Britain are planning to regulate e-cigarettes as medical devices, which has provoked criticism from some scientists that say that would limit their availability to help chronic smokers to quit. It is the tar and other toxins in real cigarettes which is deadly, not the nicotine. This is the main reason that everyone is jumping on the e-cigarette band wagon. For those who are hopelessly addicted to nicotine, everyone agrees that we’ve got to provide them with a safer alternative. They say this is it.
Here in the United States, there is another problem that concerns the masses: the number of teens using the e-cigarettes. The number of middle and high school students who are using e-cigarettes doubled in 2012 from the previous year. In total, 1.8 million middle and high school students say they smoked the e-cigarettes in 2012.
Twelve states have laws preventing the sale to minors, but that leaves a lot of states with the go ahead to sell them to students. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they were going to regulate e-cigarettes two years ago, but have yet to do it.
Another big concern among health officials is that the e-cigarette may become a path to smoking the real thing among the younger set, who may not have even thought about smoking at all if they didn't have the e-cigarette to experiment with. Among high school students, 7 percent who had tried e-cigarettes said they never smoked a traditional cigarette prior to that.
The hope is that once the FDA sees the increasing numbers of students using e-cigarettes, they will move quickly to regulate them. Let’s hope so, because something has to be done to protect the children and teens who are risking a lifetime addiction to "look cool" and it has yet to be determined if e-cigarettes are safe or not.
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