DEER IN HEADLINES : SPECIAL EDITION – By Gery L. Deer
As smoking bans continue to expand across the United States, more smokers are taking to electronic cigarettes as a way to skirt around the law while still getting their fix. While proponents of the gadgets contend they are a safer, healthier alternative that may actually help smokers quit, new research is showing they are likely to be just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.
The concept that people want to inhale poisonous gas is for the non-smoker, and for lack of a better word, baffling. If it makes a person cough, wheeze, choke, and gasp, it probably means the body is trying to reject it. To those trying to breathe clean air (well, as clean as is possible), smoking is just plain disgusting. It makes clothing and people smell bad, it pollutes the air around the smoker and is responsible for more than 440,000 premature deaths in the United States annually. Now that researchers are finally studying the alternatives, they may be proving the electronic options just as dangerous.
“It’s plausible that e-cigarettes have their own particular dangers,” stated Japan’s health ministry following the release of a recent study on the effects of using electronic nicotine delivery inhaler, more commonly known as, e-cigarettes. “That can be true even while e-cigarettes are, in general, less dangerous than traditional tobacco smoking.”
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the Japanese research found high levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the vapors of several different e-cigarette brands. The Daily Mail later issued a correction to their original story regarding the amount of carcinogens discovered, however the basic findings of the report are still relevant.
Although e-cigarette proponents (mostly those who earn revenue from the sale of these products) vehemently condemn the Daily Mail’s report and the Japanese findings, a spring 2014 study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) essentially supports the conclusions.
CBS News reported the following excerpt from the study, “Because e-cigarettes are fairly new, there could be other long-term health complications that have yet to be discovered,” the report stated. “Results of long-term exposure to such substances are unknown. Due to the lack of production oversight, most consumers don’t know what’s in the e-cigarettes they buy.”
The report indicated that e-cigarettes operated at high voltages produce vapor with large amounts of formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds. Manufacturers provided a response to the CBS report, suggesting that it would be unusual for users to alter the voltage on the delivery device. READ THE ENTIRE CBS STORY – January CBS News Report indicating formaldehyde in the vapor – click to read.
All of this study and debate is just a dance around the overlying point that smokers should not have the right to pollute the air of those around them, regardless of the delivery system. Smokers would do best to stifle the tired old argument about the addictive nature of smoking and stop blaming the tobacco companies for their suffering.
In the end, the detrimental nature of smoking is the sole responsibility of the smoker. No one forced the smoker to light up that first time, or the second, or the third. Smoking is a choice that becomes an addiction. If they hadn’t started, they wouldn’t be hooked.
Creating a socially acceptable “cheat” method for taking in nicotine is a little like making alcoholics drink from a cup instead of the bottle. The final effect is the same – the person is still addicted. On the subject of addiction, the idea that e-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit is also unsubstantiated.
Dr. Pamela Ling, an associate professor at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California, San Francisco, was lead researcher on a study published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She concluded, “When used by a broad sample of smokers under ‘real world’ conditions, e-cigarette use did not significantly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking.”
An electronic drug delivery system resembling some kind of refugee prop from Star Wars is still just another way of enabling addiction and polluting the air. If the recent studies are accurate, what is released into the air could be just as toxic as the vapor inhaled by the user, possibly even more so. Without further study and government regulation on these chemicals, no one really knows.
“Vaping” is still not widely controlled as actual smoking, so people still light up indoors where smoking is prohibited and that needs to end. Smoking bans should exist for all forms, whether achieved by burning dried leaves or electronically heated vapor.
One person’s right to smoke shouldn’t be more important than the health and safety of those around them. Imagine the result of an asthmatic child falling deathly ill from an attack triggered by the second hand vapors coming out of one of these things (or a tobacco cigarette for that matter), and all because someone couldn’t wait to light up?
Once upon a time, not so long ago, doctors ridiculously gave their seal of health to tobacco products. They even took money to provide testimonials as to the health benefits of smoking. Sadly, a lot of people had to die before health professionals faced the truth. Face the facts – if human beings were meant to breathe toxic gasses, we would be living on Venus.