E-Cigs May Be the New “Cool,” But Are They Safe?

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For decades, cigarettes have been promoted as “cool,” especially to young adults. Despite common knowledge that smoking has a negative impact on teeth and the entire body, people have continued the practice. In fact, smoking has been a part of the human lifestyle for as long as we can remember. The earliest history of smoking dates back to Central America in the 9th century. Tribes made smoking tubes from reeds and other available materials.

Over the years, traditional cigarettes have been snuffed out by advertising laws, increasing taxes, and the banning of their use in public places in entire states. But marketers aren’t worried. They are moving on to a new “cool” product, the electronic cigarette, and it’s working. Young people are picking up the new habit by the multitudes.

Introducing… E-Cigs

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs are a battery operated smoking device. They don’t contain tobacco, but instead they utilize a nicotine cartridge. The cartridge is heated by the battery and a nicotine vapor is released, which is inhaled and exhaled by the user.

The nicotine cartridges come in varying levels of potency. This allows the smoker to choose the level of nicotine. Some of the cartridges contain nicotine levels much higher than traditional cigarettes.

How Safe Are E-Cigs?

What makes these smoking devices a concern is the fact that they are unregulated. Because they don’t contain tobacco, none of the laws which regulate traditional smokes apply. Electronic cigarettes are still new in the mainstream marketplace. Very few tests have been conducted to test the safety of these devices.

In 2009, the FDA performed an analysis of two leading e-cig brands. The results showed carcinogens and diethylene glycol, a main ingredient in antifreeze, where present. The FDA is concerned about quality control. They indicate that some manufacturers may not be disclosing all the chemical ingredients in their products.

Many smokers believe that e-cigarettes are less hazardous than tobacco cigarettes.They are marketed as a way to quit traditional smoking. People seem to be buying the message. One recent study stated that 45% of smokers believe that electronic cigarette could help them quit smoking. Another study found that 53% of young adults thought e-cigs were healthier than traditional ones. However, there is little evidence to back up such claims.

Target Market is Kids

Since these products are not regulated, there is no age restriction for purchasing them. Most manufacturers sell their products online which makes them easy for anyone to purchase.

Laws don’t prohibit the advertising of e-cigs. Subsequently, companies are spending over $20 million annually on advertising. Of course, such companies deny marketing to kids. Yet they offer fun flavors like cherry, bubble gum, and cookies and cream milkshake. Additionally, e-cigs are not taxed like tobacco products, making them more affordable for kids and adults.

As your dentist, I ask you to be leery of electronic cigarettes. There are many unanswered questions about their safety. Yet their popularity is expanding. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study found nearly 1.8 million young people have tried e-cigarettes, and the number of U.S. middle and high school student e-smokers has doubled between 2011 and 2012. Advertisers are pushing hard, but don’t just buy into what they tell you!

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