Published in the Lynn Haven Ledger, June 2011
Electronic Cigarettes Article by: Clark Stream, PA-C
here is a new product on the market that has been changing the way people smoke. It’s called the “e-cig”. This new device consists of a battery, an atomizer (heater), and a cartridge that is filled with a liquid nicotine solution called eliquid. Every time you take a puff, the battery powers the atomizer which rapidly heats up the eliquid inside the cartridge. The liquid turns into a vapor that the user inhales. The vapor is tar free, odorless, 2nd hand smoke free, and carbon monoxide free. May manufacturers of this product claim the e-cigs as a revolutionary development for smokers that allow a customizable smoking experience. The World Health Organization has termed these devices electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The vapors from ENDS are complex mixtures of chemicals, not pure nicotine. It is unknown whether inhalation of the complex mixture of chemicals found in ENDS vapors is safe. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are effective treatment for nicotine addiction. The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs. ENDS are not approved by the FDA as smoking cessation devices. Can e-cigs help you stop smoking? Over the years, several of my friends and family members have tried everything from patches, prescriptions, quitting cold turkey and plenty of nicotine gum. Unfortunately, very few have become non-smokers. For years working in cardiovascular and vascular surgery, I have preached to the smoking patient how important it is to stop smoking. Will e-cigs become one of the many tools used to help patients stop smoking? Findings suggest that e-cigarettes may hold promise as a smoking-cessation method and that they are worthy of further study using more-rigorous research designs. The reason I am writing about this topic …I was recently surprised when my mother and sister told me they we able to quit smoking with the help of the e-cig. I asked them how difficult it was to stop and they said with the e-cig, it was easy. This is an answered prayer. A recent internet survey in 2010 was conducted to assess the profile, usage patterns, satisfaction and perceived effects among users of electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs”). Visitors of websites and online forums were dedicated to e-cigarettes and to smoking cessation. There were 3587 participants (70% former tobacco smokers, 61% men, mean age 41 years). The median duration of electronic cigarette use was 3 months, users drew 120 puffs/day and used 5 refills/day. Almost all (97%) used e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Daily users spent $33 per month on these products. Most (96%) said the e-cigarette helped them quit smoking or reduce their smoking (92%). Reasons for using the e-cigarette included the perception it was less toxic than tobacco (84%), to deal with craving for tobacco (79%) and withdrawal symptoms (67%), to quit smoking or avoid relapsing (77%), because it was cheaper than smoking (57%) and to deal with situations where smoking was prohibited (39%).
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Most ex-smokers (79%) feared they might relapse to smoking if they stopped using the e-cigarette. Users of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes reported better relief of withdrawal and a greater effect on smoking cessation than those using non-nicotine e-cigarettes. Conclusions of this survey showed that e-cigarettes were used much as people would use nicotine replacement medications: by former smokers to avoid relapse or as an aid to cut down or quit smoking. Further research should evaluate the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes for administration of nicotine and other substances, and for quitting and relapse prevention. What products should people who want to quit smoking use? There are a number of FDA-approved smoking cessation aids, including nicotine gum, nicotine skin patches, nicotine lozenges, nicotine oral inhaled products, and nicotine nasal spray that are available for smokers to use to reduce their dependence on nicotine. Free help is available to all smokers who want to quit at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or by visiting www.smokefree.gov4. Florida has several web sites including, www. floridaquitline.com, www.tobaccofreeflorida.com, or www.floridahealthcares.com .