Skepticism Surrounds Safety of E – Cigarettes

By Quetourah Dalencourt ’16, Tyron Matthews ’16, Hadiga Batool ‘16

Smokers and non-smokers alike are joining the trend of e-cigarettes, but their harmfulness is under speculation.

The product’s manufacturers and many scientists have praised E-cigarettes for being safer than tobacco cigarettes.

“Obviously, it would be best if smokers could quit completely,” said Professor Michael Siegal, according to inspirationsyouth.com. “But if that’s not possible, I think they’d be a lot better off with e-cigarettes. They’re a safer alternative.”

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still investigating e-cigarettes. In fact, most doctors and scientists are against the use of them. Health experts argue that many e-cigs contain nicotine, which is not only addictive but also deadly if used in high doses. Nicotine increases a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, thus causing arrhythmia, which could lead to heart failure and death.

When you smoke, you are inhaling poisonous substances that will have harmful effects on your body said Mr. Troy Sealey.

“You’re adding extra chemicals and elements. It makes it harder on your body,” said Mr. Sealey

Although Mr. Sealey hasn’t done much research on e-cigarettes, he doesn’t believe that they are any safer than tobacco cigarettes. It may not contain tobacco or tar, but it still contains chemicals that can be harmful.

According to the article “E-cigarettes Significantly Reduce Tobacco Cravings, Study Suggests” in Science Daily, scientists discovered that although e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they significantly reduce cravings in test subjects.

“The problem is that although e-cigarettes could be less harmful, people need to know that less harmful is not the same as safe,” said Dr. Michael Steinberg, Director of Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program according to the article “Experts debate pros, cons of e-cigarettes” in The Daily Targum.

One of the biggest reasons cigarette consumers are switching to e-cigarettes is it is affordable. According to learn.eversmoke.com, studies have shown that the average price for a pack of regular cigarettes in America is six dollars. Going through a pack a day would make smokers pay $2,190 per year. E-cigarettes accumulate to $846 per year, including battery replacement, for about a 60 percent savings in relation to regular cigarettes.

The major worry with e-cigarettes’ commercial success is the unknown facts. They are so new to the market, it’s not clear whether they are beneficial. The FDA hasn’t determined long term effects or how much nicotine or potentially harmful chemicals consumers inhale.

“E-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes, but we still don’t know enough about their long-term risks or effects of secondhand exposure,” said Professor M. Brad Drummond, according to webmd.com.

Although the FDA and physicians still worry about the potential harm of e-cigarettes, they also worry about their influence on younger people. Health experts believe e-cigs could become a “gateway drug” for nonsmokers and children to use tobacco. They worry e-cigarettes may attract young people to smoke and eventually lead them to use regular tobacco cigarettes, which can cause disease and lead to premature death.

Mr. Sealey believes that young people won’t see smoking e-cigarettes as harmful, even with certain drugs.

Ten states and the District of Columbia currently permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on Dec. 11, 2014. 16 million children who are seventeen and younger happen to live in these states.  According to the CDC, 4.5 percent of all high school students and 1.1 percent of all middle school students have used e-cigarettes in a given in 2013.

Mr. Sealy said that second-hand smoking might also be an issue, especially for people with asthma.

300 million people including 70 million children in the country are exposed to second-hand smoking, according to the CDC. New Jersey, North Dakota, and Utah are the three states that prohibit indoor e-cigarette smoking in places such as private workplaces, restaurants, and bars.

Also, in New York City, people are not allowed to smoke e-cigarettes in places where smoking is prohibited including restaurants, bars, offices, parks and beaches as of April 29, 2014. According to nyc.gov, retailers can no longer sell tobacco products and e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21 as of May 18, 2014.

E-cigarettes are new and until they are proven safe for use, doctors, the FDA, and many will remain skeptical.

Donald Ceus ‘15 and Hussain Bokhari ‘15 contributed to this article.

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