There is a concern from many health departments and organizations around the globe over the growing popularity of e-cigarettes. Authorities are responding with stringent regulations on the sale and use of e-cigs. For example, some states are proscribing the sale of e-cigs to minors, while others are stepping up the taxation of vaping products. The vaping industry does not take the adverse measures kindly. There is already a feeling that big tobacco companies are instigating the measures to oust the vaping products’ grip on the population. Others aver that states, the federal government and the health departments are addicted to the big tobacco revenue. But here are the reasons given for health departments’ tussle with e-cigs.
In 2014 there was an explosion in the number of teens that used e-cigs compared to those using conventional cigarettes. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, in the same time, around seventeen percent of high school seniors used e-cigarettes compared to only fourteen percent that used conventional cigarettes.
This finding jolted authorities to think of measures to curb the entrenchment of e-cig smoking among the underage. So far, forty one states have banned selling of e-cigs to people under the age of eighteen years, as per the National Conference of State Legislatures. Critics of the measures argue teens can find a way to circumvent the proscription. According to the critics, there are far more effective ways of keeping e-cigs off-limit to the young than the outright proscription. For example, raising taxes of e-cigs does more to keep e-cigs off-limit for a typical teen with limited income.
The American Cancer Society is worried that, in light of a recent study, e-cigs could be potentially harmful to users. The study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found out that e-cigs produce very high levels of formaldehyde. Another study in 2014 found that aerosol coming from e-cigarettes with high voltage levels contain hidden amounts of formaldehyde. Now, formaldehyde is a carcinogen known for its potential to cause cancer. Owing to these alarming findings, the American Lung Association called upon the Food and Drug Administration to oversight the sale of e-cig products.
However, there has been a rebuttal from pro-vaping advocates. They claim that the research did not in fact find formaldehyde in e-cig, rather, they found formaldehyde hemiacetals. Moreover, the advocates argue that there is no scintilla of evidence to conclude that hemiacetals are carcinogenic or toxic. According to the pro-vaping advocates, the formation of hemiacetals is actually a cushion against damage that may be induced by formaldehyde.
According to a risk assessment lead by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, e-cigs deliver pretty much the same amount of nicotine as traditional cigarettes. Thus, according to experts, e-cigs pose the same harmful effects as traditional cigarettes. According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, nicotine, which is present in e-cigs in the same concentration as it is in conventional cigars, can be harmful to both children and pregnant women.
However, the health experts concede that the health risks posed by nicotine present in e-cigs is much lower compared to the host of health risks that arise from lighting up the traditional cigarette.
A section of health experts feel that e-cigs should be regulated because the emissions from flavorings in cigarette aerosols can deliver heavy metals, free radicals and inflammation agents to the lung tissue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention avers that it is not comforting to think that the e-cig water vapor is harmless. They say that clean air should be the hallmark- be it clean air that is free from secondhand smoke or aerosol from an e-cig product.
Health departments are also fighting e-cigarettes because they are not convinced that e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit smoking. They feel that nicotine replacement products such as lozenges and patches can suffice to stop addiction without necessarily having to vape. That is compounded by the fact that there is no long-term data or finding to confidently conclude that e-cigs in fact help smokers kick the habit. The scientific evidence is sparse and not thorough enough. Moreover, there is a proliferation of e-cig brands such that it is dauntingly difficult to make any kind of general statement about all of them.
A review by the Cochrane Collaborative, an independent organization that specializes in the analysis of health research, found some evidence from two studies that e-cigs can help smokers quit the habit for at least six months. This evidence was dismissed as low due to the fact that it was based on just two clinical trials.
Therefore, while e-cigarettes are not as risk-free as the e-cig advocates would want us to believe, they are also not as harmful or dangerous as health departments want to paint them. The evidence is sparse to conclusively determine if this products are harmful and to what extent, or if they are useful in the process of quitting smoking.