The Electronic Cigarette: Between Caprices and Cures

The electronic cigarette has gained many adepts lately, people that consider it as a cheap and healthy method to quit classical smoking. This argument didn’t convinced the doctors, which are skeptical in some aspects.

Just imagine Winston Churchill with an iron cylinder hanged around his neck, puffing from it whenever he wants. We are sure that he would not agree with the idea of an electronic cigarette as a practical method to quit smoking, because smoking was a part of life until the 60’s. Tobacco was considered a sacred plant, with important medical attributes. It was used as exchange merchandise, and it still is the main object of a market producing millions of dollars. Later, it was introduced on the list of drugs, because dependency on tobacco is similar with the one for heroin and cocaine.

New times ask for new ideas, and this is why the electronic cigarette has millions of fans today. The medics try to minimize the good effects of those, talking about some possible negative ones. The consequences on health are not so clear, but this is because nobody bothered to study those at a professional level. They just study the prospect, and they say that it is not good. We are sure that the nicotine gum has its negative aspects, but doctors are not as determined when they are talking about those. It is probably because the nicotine gums are prescribed by them, with prescription, while the electronic cigarette can be bought from online and land-based stores.

What is the Electronic Cigarette?

In 2003, the Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created a metallic device that looks like a cigarette, but which is powered with batteries, and which produces a white-blue smoke, from vapors. It was called e-cigarette or “electronic cigarette”. The device was released on the market one year later, but it was not successful in China. Presented as an alternative to the traditional smoking, this device became popular in Europe and America. The reason? It gives about the same sensation as the traditional cigarette, but without all those harmful secondary effects.

Usually, the electronic cigarette is composed of a battery, a reservoir loaded with a substance that is exposed to a vaporizer, producing the vapors that can be inhaled. At one side of the cigarette, there is a red LED, which is not required, but which gives the sensation of real smoking. At the other side, there is a plastic piece that looks exactly like a filter.

Why they are not studied?

Being presented as an electronic product, and as a healthy alternative, the devices are not under any kind of regulations when it comes to safety of the organism. This aspect is the one that makes the doctors uncomfortable, as those are worried about the composition of the liquids in the e-cigarette. Moreover, the exact composition is sometimes not specified on the labels.

Some electronic cigarette starter kit contains substances that are also present in the common cigarettes. There are producers that write the content on the labels, but the majority of them don’t. The idea is to study those on the long term, but nobody has the interest to invest in such studies.

An extreme solution?

The e-cigarettes can contain a quantity of nicotine between 0 and 18 mg, artificial flavors, vanilla extract, or vegetal glycerin. On the other hand, there are also some harmful substances. Inhaling those might lead to problems, at least at a theoretical level. On the other hand, while there are millions of people that need medical treatment against diseases provoked by normal cigarettes, there is not a single person that needs treatment after smoking an electronic cigarette, or at least we don’t know about such person.