Quitting Smoking in the Electronic Era

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It is clear-cut that smoking is bad for you. It is not so clear-cut whether E-Cigs are good for you. Age-Net sifts through the hype to bring you the real data to put to use in the not so near future.

Electronic cigarettes have been available in the UK since 2005. The demand surged since the introduction of the smoking ban, when the trend started to rise. For a decade they have been available, yet the most recent research findings from a university in the US, criticised the use of vapour because it had an adverse effect on mice exposed to the vapour for two weeks.

You’d think after a decade, there would be hard factual scientific data to back up the use of vaporising, but the fact is that there’s not.

That latest study was a bit of a train-wreck when the media reported it. The findings of the researchers were somewhat skewed to say the least, because they got a teeny-weeny detail wrong. They gave the mice a dosage equivalent to humans.

Let common sense prevail. Mice have smaller lungs than humans do!

Despite the controversy over the use of e cigs, they are proving to be effective aids that people are using to cut down smoking. Not so much quitting, because that’s a tough habit to break.

The habit is the hard bit to break, and for some smokers it’s just that feeling of having the cigarette between their fingers right after their dinner, or even if their out with friends in a club, since they don’t have to be the oldie in the group, consistently leaving to go outside for a smoke.

It’s estimated to be around 2.1 million people in the UK use e cigs. In Europe, it’s around 7 million, so that is pretty high in comparison considering we’re only one of 28 countries.

Users surveyed by the ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) group show that people are using e cigs in a few different ways.

  1. As an aid to quit smoking
  2. As an aid to reduce the amount of cigarettes smoked in a day
  3. As a tool to get a nicotine fix in a smoke free zone, such as on hospital grounds

Studies done indicate that the majority of users, use them as a tool to stop smoking, or to cut down. There’s only a minority use e cigs as a replacement to smoking tobacco in places where smoking isn’t permitted.

Safety Concerns

Of all the studies done over the years, all of them support electronic cigarettes being safer than traditional cigarette.

The resounding fact about smoking is that it’s the tar from smoking tobacco products is what kills you. Not the nicotine, although it’s certainly not healthy. However, that being said, there are people who want to stop, have tried the traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy options, such as those by Nicorette, like the inhalator, which is the product that delivers nicotine in its purest form.

Since electronic cigarettes vaporise the nicotine for inhalation, it isn’t as pure as the Nicorrette inhalator.

The addictiveness of nicotine is a concern, because there is a chance people can use these to cut down, or even stop smoking tobacco products, but still be addicted to the nicotine, therefore, not giving up completely, but instead changing the way nicotine is introduced the body.

Professional health organisations do not recommend the use of electronic cigarettes, because they don’t have enough evidence to support the safe use of them.

All studies done so far have been in controlled environments. For a full conclusion to be made, it would need to consider the health aspects of the people in the proximity of others using e cigs who don’t smoke.

Much in the same way the smoking ban was introduced to prevent non-smokers being subjected to the dangers of passive smoke; further research needs to be done to find out if there is a risk to others from the 1% of toxins contained in the vapour released.

The message from the stop smoking organisations is that using electronic cigarettes are safer than smoking tobacco products. Of the toxins inhaled from smoking a cigarette, there is only 1% of those inhaled through vapour. Therefore, it is definitely safer.

Safer is not Always Safe Though

The last thing any major health group is going to do is risk their reputation by stating these are safe products to use, only to find years down the line that it’s not the case. More research needs done, but safer is the keyword in the message.

Anything you can to reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day is better than doing nothing at all.

How the Electronic Cigarettes Work?

An electronic cigarette has a few components to it.

  • A battery
  • An atomiser
  • A cartridge

The cartridge contains the liquid, and the atomiser heats it in order to produce the vapour for inhalation. Cartridges are available with no nicotine added at all.

Whether or not the cartridge has nicotine, it will have some form of propylene glycol. That’s what produces the vapour, and that’s what researchers and health bodies want to know more about.

Propylene glycol has been used for years in theatres to produce the theatrical smoke. The only reason there isn’t enough data on the safe use of propylene glycol in e cigs, is because it’s being directly inhaled into the body. As you can imagine, that’s entirely different from fake stage smoke.

The Rules for Retailers

Of all the e cigs there are available, both on the high street and online, none available in the UK can claim to help treat a nicotine addiction. They can’t even imply that.

They are carefully marketed deliberately so as not to imply you can use them to treat an addiction to nicotine. This is a way of MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) regulation avoidance.

Any product marketed to consumers as a tool to treat an addiction to nicotine is subject to MRHA regulation. For that reason, the advertising is done carefully so as not to imply you can use the product to quit smoking.

Asides from that, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has stated that the electronic cigarette is “not a proven nicotine replacement therapy.”

How users choose to use the e cigs is completely up to them.

Regulation of e cigs begins on 20th May 2016

The EU Tobacco Products Directive was passed last year. All member states have until the 20th May 2016 to make Directive national law.

When that happens, the refill cartridges used to deliver the nicotine will need to contain less than 20mg/ml. The average is 18ml/mg for the standard smoker. Beyond the amounts of nicotine that will be available in the cartridges, they will also be subject to the same marketing authorisations required for any pharmaceutical firm.

Some manufacturers have already made sharp moves in direction to produce tobacco flavoured electronic cigarettes with no tobacco or nicotine in the cartridges at all. Because of that, they avoid the regulatory oversight coming into effect next year.

So you do have more choice now than just the electronic cigarettes you’re likely used to seeing in stores.

You can use e cigs that contain vegetable glycerol, as opposed to propylene glycol found in the traditional vapours. Vegetable glycerol base is the healthier option.

Should you find the no nicotine approach unsuitable for your needs, you can use vapours with different amounts of nicotine. For an average smoker, vapour retailers suggest 18mg/ml nicotine. If you’re using it to cut down, you can reduce from 18mg/ml to 16mg/ml, to 12mg/ml and so forth, until you reach a stage when you can use the no nicotine vapours and effectively stopped smoking, in the traditional sense.

Then you have the habit to break of stopping using the vapours, which for many smokers is the toughest part of the process.

One thing we know just now is that smokers who use the e cigs to cut down – save money! Vapours are cheaper than cigarettes and healthier too.

With regards to the cost, who knows how the market will be affected next year when the electronic cigarette market becomes subject to regulatory oversight.

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