Electronic cigarettes are also called electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes. They are typically battery-operated devices which are designed to deliver flavorings of nicotine as well as other chemicals to utilisers in vapor form instead of smoke. They are manufactured so as to look like the traditional cigars, pipes, cigarettes or even such everyday items as USB memory sticks and pens. Newer devices, however, like those having fillable tanks, may have a different look. There are currently more than two hundred and fifty different brands of e-cigarettes in the market.
As much as electronic cigarettes are usually promoted as being safer alternatives to the traditional cigarettes, that produce the nicotine in them by burning tobacco, little is known as far as health risks of these devices is concerned.
How do electronic cigarettes work?
Most of the electronic cigarettes comprise of the following three different components:
- A vaporizer (heating device)
- A catridge: This holds a solution of liquid that contains numerous amounts of flavourings, nicotine as well as other chemicals.
- A source of power (normally a batter)
In a large number of electronic cigarettes, the simple act of puffing only is sufficient to activate the heating device which is powered by a battery. The vapor or aerosol that results is then inhaled.
Are electronic cigarettes less risky than the traditional cigarettes?
This question is unfortunately difficult to answer since the information that is available is insufficient on these relatively new products.
Smoking of cigarettes remains the topmost preventable cause of mortality and sickness, being responsible for more than 400,000 deaths in the US each and every year. The worst consequences of smoking on a person’s health (such as heart diseases and even cancer), are closely linked to inhaling of tar as well as other chemicals which are emitted upon burning of tobacco. The addictive, reinforcing and pleasurable properties of smoking mainly come from the nicotine in the tobacco.
Electronic Cigarette is designed in such a way that they simulate tobacco smoking by emitting a flavored aerosol that is appealing and which feels and looks like tobacco smoke. This aerosol also delivers nicotine but with much less toxic chemicals as compared to that produced on burning tobacco leaves. Since e-cigarettes deliver nicotine with no burning of tobacco, they appear to be safer and less toxic alternatives to the traditional cigarettes.
Do electronic cigarettes help individuals quit smoking?
Some people have a belief that e-cigarettes assist smokers in lowering nicotine cravings while they are attempting to quit their use of tobacco. At this point, however, it is not clear whether they really are efficient smoking cessation aids. There also is some possibility that they are in a position of perpetuating the addiction to nicotine and, in this way, interfere with quitting smoking.
Since electronic cigarettes are at the moment not marketed either as devices with therapeutic purposes or as tobacco products, they aren’t restricted by the FDA. Additionally, there’s currently no restriction of those liquids which are made use of in the e-cigarettes. There are, therefore, no accepted measures whatsoever of confirming their safety and purity.