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Are E-Cigarettes Safer Than Cigarettes?

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Probably Not.

Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, this does not make them necessarily healthier than smoking regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other toxins that are just as bad , if not worse than those found in cigarettes. Due to the lack of long-term research, the answer to this question cannot be definitively proven , but the research so far signals that a cigarette smoker should not turn to e-cigarettes for salvation.

Origin and Prevalence

Chinese Pharmacist Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette in 2003 to help curb his heavy smoking habit and provide a solution to a massive social problem. He sold the rights to sell his product to big tobacco, which is when questions in the public health community arose about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.

When e-cigarettes hit the market, the most popular brands had possible connections to the tobacco industry. One of the earliest brands was Njoy, which was founded in 2006 and has maintained independence from the tobacco industry. The journal article in the US National Library of Medicine titled, "The Advertising Strategies of Early E-cigarette Brand Leaders in the United States" investigates the marketing strategies of early e-cigarette companies when they first emerged. It was found that ads typically focused on targeting young adults with bright colors and diverse flavors. Brand leaders also advertised e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking cigarettes which helped create the myth around the safety of e-cigarettes.

The FDA established regulations for e-cigarettes and their liquid solutions in 2016. The US Government regulated e-cigarettes as tobacco products, requiring purchasers to be least 18 years of age. E-cigarettes easy availability, alluring advertisements, various flavors, and infatuation of the smoke itself has made it more appealing to this age group. Despite the myths on e-cigs being a way to ease or stop smoking, researchers are beginning to do studies & experiments on whether e-cigarettes leads to regular use of smokable tobacco.

Issues and Analysis

Because e-cigarettes come in many forms and are still relatively new, it is still unclear the exact impact they have on health. The FDA claims that despite lacking tobacco, e-cigarettes contain some of the same toxic chemicals as regular cigarettes,

A 2015 Harvard Medical School Poll found that the public was about evenly split about whether e-cigarettes were less harmful than conventional cigarettes. In a Harvard Health Blog, John Ross presents some good and bad news about the potential harm of e-cigarettes. He first claims that "e-cigarettes are almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes." The bad news is that the nicotine in e-cigarettes may have several negative health effects and makes it harder to actually quit smoking.

Thetruth.com has a commercial that states facts about vaping and cigarettes. This commercial shows how bad e-cigarettes are compared to cigarettes. Vaping nicotine can damage your blood vessels and weaken your immune system. According to some studies, e-cigarettes contain many different chemicals including lead and nickel. These chemicals are linked to cancer and problems with the central nervous system. One of the most popular brands of e-cigarettes today, JUUL, has a pod that contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

Altria, also known as Philip Morris, is the leading US manufacturer for cigarettes. Recently, Altria has made a $12.8 billion dollar investment into JUUL – a 35% stake. This is very beneficial for them because many people are making the transition from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. The JUUL products though are very unhealthy. One JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Also, JUUL products contain nicotine salts and this helps people to inhale high levels of nicotine more easily without any irritation. Altria has no intention to help reduce the number of cigarettes. Their only goal is to maximize sales and profits between cigarettes and e-cigarettes markets.

According to Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, the big difference between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes is that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, which leads consumers to believe that they are healthier. However, e-cigarettes do contain many of the same toxic chemicals as regular cigarettes. The consumer's body reacts to many of the chemicals in regular cigarettes that cause chronic diseases, and since e-cigarettes contain those same chemicals, the changes are great that our bodies will react the same way to those harmful chemicals. Also, there are no long term studies that prove that vapor from e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, since cancer takes years to develop and e-cigarettes have only been around for a few years.

A 2017 study funded by Cancer Research in the UK says that "smokers who switch entirely to e-cigarettes cut their intake of toxins and carcinogens as much as those who quit smoking by using nicotine replacements like the patch, gum or lozenges." People who support e-cigarettes say that the research done on e-cigarettes can actually "help save lives by steering people away from traditional tobacco smoking." During the study, the researchers found that the e-cigarette users who continued to smoke, did not have lower levels of carcinogen and toxin, so that means that e-cigarettes are not reducing as much harm as they are saying. The e-cigarette smokers actually had as much toxins in their bodies as the traditional tobacco smokers did.

Ilona Jasper is a toxicologist and works with her team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied cells scraped from the inside of the noses of healthy people; some smokers, some vaped, others did neither. The findings appear to indicate that electronic cigarette vapors "could adversely impact the cardiovascular health of users." Concurrently, they did a study in mice, specifically pregnant mice. Young adult mice exposed to nicotine developed behaviors that are reflective of increased or hyperactivity. Physician, Neal Benowitz, studies tobacco and health at the University of California, San Francisco, states he is now unsure if e-cigs are 'safer' than regular smoking.

Scientific America's reliability is due to their award winning global reach. This has been an authoritative source for the science discoveries and technology with unique insights for over 170 years. By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, British Scientists found away to evaluate the effects of E-cigarettes smoking on human neurophysiology. Studies have found that nicotine is not the only factor of addiction. Since vapes do not burn, and use water vapor, fMRI scan is able to monitor and record brain activity with each pull of smoke. Nevertheless, smoking in itself is addicting, but the flavor and smell makes it more appealing, at times, addicting.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/09/hon-lik-e-cigarette-inventor-quit-smoking-dual-user

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789794/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes

https://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/ProductsIngredientsComponents/ucm20035927.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/electronic-cigarettes-good-news-bad-news-2016072510010

https://www.thetruth.com/categories/vaping/fact

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/20/678915071/altria-buys-35-percent-stake-in-e-cigarette-maker-juul

http://stopcancerfund.org/uncategorized/are-e-cigarettes-safer-than-regular-cigarettes/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-e-cigarettes-safer-than-tobacco-new-study-fuels-debate/

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/vaping-may-threaten-brain-immunity-and-more

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/vaping-brain-may-hold-clues-to-smoking-addiction/


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