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Healthy Cigarettes? E-Cigarettes Poised to Reduce Tobacco Harm

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By Shantella Y. Sherman
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

Gina Hahn lost more than half of her friends a decade ago. Though they once bragged about their lifelong friendships, love affairs, and classic school days, when it came time to grow up – and in this case, snub out – Hahn and only a handful of the 30 or so failed to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

Initially, Hahn, 32, said she was not particularly bothered by the newly health-conscious among her circle that affixed nicotine patches to their arms, or quit smoking cold turkey. Others, she said, developed smoking-related illnesses that made being around a smoker impossible. While Hahn missed their company, she enjoyed more the ability to smoke freely.

As a bartender, Hahn said she found it easy to work in smoke-filled environments like bars and nightclubs and once those bars, restaurants and other public spaces enacted no smoking regulations, found a ready supply of new friends huddled and idling outside the entrances of buildings, lighting up. But with the advent of the new electronic cigarette (also known as e-cigarettes), Hahn often finds herself outside, in the cold, idling alone.

“The doorways and balconies are emptying out in a lot of spaces as this new electronic cigarette becomes popular. I refused to ‘bite’ though,” said Hahn, who smokes unfiltered Camels. “My friends have gotten older and, maybe, wiser and they’ve used the e-cigarette to stop smoking altogether.”

E-cigarettes allow users to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine through a mouthpiece. The heater also vaporizes propylene glycol (PEG) in the cartridge (used to create theatrical smoke in stage productions), and the user gets a puff of hot gas that mimics tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes contain no tobacco products; and utilize synthetic nicotine.

Hahn is among the 50 million Americans who continue to smoke, understanding fully the dangers of smoking and those who aren’t yet sold on the e-phenomenon. Health experts believe the addictive nature of nicotine and other additives to tobacco provide some benefits smokers are unwilling to relinquish.

Brad Rodu, a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute, holds the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and works to find safe substitutions to tobacco products that reduce what he terms “tobacco harm.” Rodu said that in addition to reducing anxiety and stress, nicotine has the ability to lower weight, and improve concentration.

“It’s time to be honest with the 50 million Americans, and hundreds of millions around the world, who use tobacco,” Rodu wrote, “The benefits they get from tobacco are very real, not imaginary or just the periodic elimination of withdrawal. It’s time to abandon the myth that tobacco is devoid of benefits, and to focus on how we can help smokers continue to derive those benefits with a safer delivery system.”

Jeff Stier, a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., advises that while the nicotine present in both cigarettes and many e-cigarettes, is addictive, is not in and of itself, harmful. The danger comes from burning and inhaling tobacco, which is done with cigarettes but not e-cigarettes. Calling nicotine about as harmful as the caffeine in soda, Stier supports e-cigarettes as a tobacco harm reducer.

 

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+1 # Ecigarcade.co.uk 2013-12-27 12:14
I have worked in the smoking cessation area for over 20 years, and have never seen anything like electronic cigarettes that offer tobacco smokers a way out. Smokers do not smoke to harm themselves, usually they start young and they do it to be part of a group, or to appear more adult, or even to be a rebel / non- conformist, they get so stuck on the habit that they find it hard to stop. Perceived benefits for smokers are time out taking a break, being able to dissociate from a problem by stepping back etc. Electronic cigarettes keep all these perceived benefits, patches and gum do not. The habit is what reinforces the behaviour [ smoking is after all a behaviour because it's something you do ] , so in short if you know any smokers, I believe , and this is only my opinion , that they should be encouraged to research this alternative. Ecigarettes have had 4000 toxins that exist in tobacco smoke removed, is that not a positive step in the right direction?
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+1 # Alan Fletcher 2013-12-26 12:51
I enjoyed your very intesting and positive article, all of which was true apart from one small issue. In Europe at least, nicotine is extracted from tobacco plants as it is much cheaper than the synthetic production. This may be one reason why the E.U. Comission want to classify ecigs as tobacco products.
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+1 # Uma 2013-12-25 08:45
By no means though, are they "heathy". They are a far safer alternative to smoking, yes, but they don't provide us with pure oxygen, 24 essential vitamins, daily fiber, nor snazzy jogging outfits. They are 99% safer than smoking, but, no, they are not "healthier".
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+6 # Uma 2013-12-25 08:38
Excellent, well written factful article, thanks!
On the balance scales of pros & cons of Nicotine, nicotine, for me, wins hands down. Nicotine is no more addictive than caffeine.
Nicotine is beneficial in reducing stress, improving focus (so you know who not to vote for), improving cognitive skills and more. Nicotine is helpful in healing Colitis Cancer & even brain damage. Nicotine is beneficial in warding off Tuberculosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ADHD, and so much more. A German doctor once said, "Nicotine's main problem is that it causes a feeling of well being".
Nicotine is found in vegetables, it is a necessary part for the well being of the body.
PG, (propylene Glycol) is one of the main ingredients in eCigs. It was tested in 1942 by Dr. Robertson. His studies revealed that PG is a killer of Influenza & Pneumonia germs. Vapers rarely receive colds, unlike smokers. That's one of the most joyful side benefits of vaping.
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