Electronic Cigarettes – How safe are they?
Summary: Electronic cigarettes are available in different parts of the world and were offered in the US as of 2007. These provide an alternative to those who smoke and find it hard to get away from the habit. Similar in appearance, they are often mistaken for the real thing.
E-cigarettes resemble the real thing only on the outside – and not all of them at that. There is a mechanism in each of these which heats up nicotine in liquid form and delivers it directly into the lungs. According to many customers and the manufacturers, these devices apparently offer many advantages over the traditional item. Regulators and health experts are skeptical – they question the effects of inhaling vapor and want to monitor for health risks. There have been quite a few calls for tighter regulation of this market as well – research is being done to figure out the safety aspect.
Since there is no tobacco in the devices, they are not subject to the same laws that tobacco products are. There are ways to purchase them without proving one’s age – more so, on the web. Experts worry that children and young adults could easily get addicted to nicotine in this fashion. Believers of the product are adamant that they feel better after using e-cigs and have saved quite a lot of money – there are many people and celebrities who contend that they have managed to kick the habit altogether. The question is whether it really offers a healthy option or does it become a risky choice? What does the FDA have to say? Here are a few facts on e-cigarettes for everyone to consider before making up their mind about the safety of the product.
Things to know about E-Cigarettes:
- No real smoking: The device more often than not, looks like a regular cigarette – the big difference is that it is battery operated. There is a cartridge filled with nicotine and a vaporization chamber – the nicotine is heated up and delivered by the vaporization chamber to the lungs. Inhale and exhale as normal – there is no smell or smoke.
- Concerns for safety: Manufacturers are careful about the claims they make as they don’t want to run afoul of regulators and the FDA. One claim that is made is that they are an alternative to tobacco. The FDA is seriously looking into the effects of inhaling nicotine in such a pure form
- Levels of Nicotine: E-cig cartridges are available with varying amounts of nicotine – some of them contain as much nicotine as regular cigarettes. There are some cartridges without any nicotine for those who want the experience without the effects.
- Where and how to find: These devices are sold all over the world and are easy to find on the Internet. A large percentage of these devices are manufactured in China – though of late, American companies are getting into the act as well.
- Marketing: Manufacturers are very careful about not pitching the products to kids or adolescents. They offer many flavors which are appealing to kids and adults alike – caramel, chocolate, bubble gum and strawberry. Internet commerce doesn’t usually permit for age checks and there have been cases when children have been able to order them for personal use.
- Cost: These devices are a bit expensive, depending on who the manufacturer is. A typical kit can cost anywhere between $50-$150. The cartridges are fairly cheap and reduce cost in the long run. They require maintenance as well – people should keep this in mind.