Why is the FDA giving e-cigarettes a closer look?
The FDA Center for Tobacco Products will hold its third and final public workshop to collect data on electronic cigarettes and public health this June 1 and 2. But you don’t need to attend the workshop: through July 2, the FDA invites you to submit comments online here regarding e-cigarettes and public health if they’re supported by research and data.
Those who follow “vaping,” either as enthusiasts or as scientists studying the phenomenon, anticipate this call for input will bring heavy regulation to the manufacture, sales and use of e-cigarettes.
So why is the FDA getting into e-cigarettes now, when it has left them unchallenged since they were introduced to the U.S. some eight or so years ago?
Because the data that has been coming in is scary! What appeared initially to be a wholly harmless way to curb or quit smoking is now looking dangerous – and glamorous. That latter element, some anti-smoking advocates fear, could undo all the progress to date that makes smoking unacceptable to young people and pushes smokers to the fringes of society – or at least to the loading docks.
Let’s first say that the government, medical professionals and researchers haven’t a lot of incontrovertible data that long-term use of electronic cigarettes – which dispense nicotine via a smokeless vapor – are creating a public health issue. But enough studies linking e-cigs to asthma, lung inflammation, MRSA infection risk and exposure to harmful chemicals let us know that e-cigarettes certainly aren’t harmless.
How do they work? Take a tube. Add a rechargeable lithium battery. Insert a cartridge that contains nicotine, flavoring and chemicals like glycerin or polyethylene glycol – and maybe additional ingredients that don’t need to be named, since e-cigarettes aren’t regulated yet. An atomizer in the tube consists of a heating coil that heats the “e-juice” (nicotine cartridge contents) to a vapor you suck into your mouth, throat and lungs. A sensor notes when you take a drag and activates the atomizer as well as an LED light that glows at one end to look a little like a burning cigarette. The e-cigs starter kits range from around $30 to $100; a cartridge provides roughly the “smoke” of a pack of tobacco cigarettes but costs about a fifth of the real thing.
Is there anything in that description that bothers you? Quite a bit catches my eye. Here are my concerns:
- We don’t know fully how the chemicals in the vapor affect a person’s health over the long term.
- The nicotine cartridges are poisonous, labeled with warnings to keep out of reach of children and pets.
- There have been reports of e-cigarettes exploding when the lithium battery is overcharged.
- And hey, who are we kidding? With e-cigarettes, you’re still putting nicotine – a proven toxic substance – into your body.
This is what I know to be true because it is backed by real research conducted by real scientists and by my own professional experience:
- Using tobacco products in any form is bad for your health.
- Ingesting nicotine is bad for your health.
- Many adults would quit smoking if they thought they could – and if they “knew then” what they “know now,” they would not have started.
- One safe, sure way to quit smoking or other tobacco or nicotine use – and far safer than replacing the unhealthy substance with nicotine and additional potentially dangerous substances – is to undergo a focused overhaul of your habit system.
If you want to quit smoking without taking the risks that come with e-cigarettes, save yourself the cost of the kit and cartridges and let me guide you through a personal journey of connection to your best intentions.
For that is what hypnosis is: you working with a professional who assists you to reframe your habits and routine practices to make your life more of what you want it to be. And that is a lot more glamorous and satisfying than an e-cigarette, any day.
UPDATE: Electronic cigarettes have been getting more coverage in the news recently! Check out an article from the New York Times by clicking here and another article from The Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.