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Are E-Cigarettes Helpful or Harmful?

Are E-Cigarettes Helpful or Harmful?
April 15
19:16 2016

Although cigarette smoking has more of a negative connotation now than it did ten years ago, it still accounts for over 480,000 deaths a year. Not to mention, another 16 million Americans have some form of smoking-related disease.

So, it’s safe to say that the tobacco addiction is still a major problem in the US. Since smoking traditional cigarettes is looked down upon in our culture, electronic cigarettes have become popular. But, do they really come with little risk to your health? And do they help traditional smokers give up tobacco?

Jed Rose, director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation at Duke University and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, defends their usage. The substance in cigarettes responsible for the high death tolls is tobacco. But, there is another drug in cigarettes that make them so hard to quit. “Nicotine is a powerfully addictive substance, but it is not the cause of cancer, lung disease or vascular disease seen in smokers. While quitting all nicotine-containing products may be an ideal goal, smokers who try to stop on their own have less than a 5% chance of long-term success, and only about a 10% chance with the assistance of a medical provider,” said Rose.

Rose argues that e-cigarettes are effective in helping people to reduce or completely eliminate their tobacco usage. “Electronic cigarettes have an unparalleled potential to reduce the public-health impact of smoking, by allowing smokers to replace the habit and nicotine of smoking without the toxic effects of combustion.

There are critics who disagree with Rose’s viewpoint and condemn e-cigarettes. This opposing group points out that there are more effective and safer ways to quit. “So-called common sense—the idea that e-cigarettes should be effective because other forms of nicotine replacement have been, and more so because they mimic smoking—simply doesn’t stand up when we look at the scientific evidence,” says Pamela Ling, professor of medicine with the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ling points out that smokers who turn to e-cigarettes as a solution also often go back to smoking traditional cigarettes. “In the real world, most e-cigarette users continue to smoke tobacco—which suggests that electronic cigarettes may actually keep people smoking traditional cigarettes,” said Ling.

Not to mention, all of the major US cigarette companies also have e-cigarettes subsidiaries. “It is hard to believe that these companies would churn out products that they believe would damage the tobacco market, which is many times bigger than the e-cigarette market,” said Ling.

Both researchers do agree on one thing regarding electronic-cigarettes though, that there haven’t been enough studies done on the devices to prove they are harmless.

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Kerri Adams

Kerri Adams

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