The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) has risen dramatically over the past few years; in fact, an estimated 15% of traditional tobacco users have made the switch to electronic. One of the many reasons for this is the notion by some that e-cigs are a less dangerous alternative to cigarettes (notice, I did not use the term “healthy” alternative). This fact has been argued for and against essentially since the emergence of e-cigs on the market in 2007. Many opposed to the use of e-cigs claim that there is “no” evidence that e-cigs are a smoking cessation device. This is in fact, completely false. Numerous studies have proven that compared to other smoking cessation products, e-cigs have the highest rate of success. One study found that there was a 30% greater likelihood of success when using nicotine filled e-cigs as opposed to nicotine patches (see story here: e-cigs vs nicotine patches).
The next argument of some of those opposed to e-cigs is that they are almost as dangerous as traditional cigarettes. Yet again, this completely false; while few will still argue (as they shouldn’t) that e-cigs are safe, it can be said with certainty that they are far safer than traditional cigarettes. The primary chemicals in the typical liquid solution that fills e-cigs, or e-liquid, is composed of the follow: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerol, nicotine, and food flavorings. None of the chemicals in this list are known carcinogens, and all have been substantially studied over the course of half a century. According to Ritchtell, “traditional cigarettes, by contrast (to e-cigs), create thousands of chemicals and dozens of carcinogens, according to Prue Talbot, professsor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside. E-cigarettes do not tend to generate enough heat to create combustion, which is a big reason that many public health officials and researchers predict they will prove less harmful than cigarettes” (Richtell). See story here: Safety of E-cigs
The final primary argument against e-cigs is that they appeal to adolescents, and can influence them into trying traditional cigarettes; some even argue that e-cigs should be banned to prevent adolescent usage. To me, this is remarkably similar to the “just say no” campaign of the Regan administration, and the D.A.R.E program, which are both aimed at preventing our youth from trying drugs. You may be asking, how are these separate issues relevant to electronic cigarettes? The answer is quite simple; the misinformation given by such programs is catastrophic for our youth because it does nothing to solve the problem at hand- which is exactly what’s happening with electronic cigarettes. In my opinion claiming that e-cigs led adolescents into trying traditional cigarettes is the equivalent of calling marijuana a gateway drug. The reason I make this comparison is that neither of the claims offer any evidence (except highly circumstantial); likewise, both claims fail to account for the fact that adolescents are capable of the truth- that truth being, electronic cigarettes are not the same or as harmful as cigarettes, just as marijuana is not the same or as harmful as other drugs.