We’ve come a long way since the 50s, when cigarette brands would often sponsor popular television programs. In 1971, all tobacco ads were banned from TV and radio. Now, more than four decades later, tobacco advertising is one of the most highly regulated forms of marketing around. Despite these efforts, smoking is still the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States.
While we often focus on the nicotine in cigarettes as being dangerous – and it IS highly addictive – many scientists now believe that ingredient is not what causes cancer for smokers or those exposed to second-hand smoke. Instead, it’s the “burn,” the toxic chemicals that are created when tobacco and filler products burn while someone is smoking that is the real danger.
Developed by a pharmacist in China with a three-pack-a-day habit, the product was created as a way for him to keep smoking without developing lung cancer as his father did. But just how does it work? An e-cigarette is a device that uses a small battery to atomize a pure liquid solution of nicotine. Nothing is burned, so there’s no ash or smoke.
This has many insisting that e-cigs are a safe way to smoke. Others go further, claiming they can help you quit smoking altogether. A new study in the British journal Lancet that looked at a small sampling of smokers found that e-cigarettes might be slightly more effective than nicotine patches in helping people kick the habit. Before you run out to buy a starter kit, though, it’s important to know that the devices are not an FDA-approved method for smoking cessation.
The jury is still out on whether e-cigs really do provide a way to get a nicotine fix while avoiding all the health problems of traditional cigarettes. Some experts suggest that this new delivery method makes it as harmless as other addictive substances like caffeine. Others are more skeptical. Since e-cigarettes are unregulated in the United States, there are no laws that require manufacturers to tell you what you are actually inhaling. The unknown is one of the many qualities of e-cigarettes that groups like the American Lung association don’t like.
One group that is drawn to e-cigs is young people. In fact, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more teens and children are trying e-cigarettes. Who can blame them, with kid-friendly flavors like gummy bear and cookies & cream? While tobacco use has been on the decline with kids, this latest CDC study shows a growing number of middle and high school students have tried e-cigarettes, making it a troubling trend.
If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addiction and co-occurring disorder, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free helpline on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.
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