Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigs” are becoming quite popular over the past few years. They are advertised as being as satisfying as traditional cigarettes but with fewer and less dangerous side effects. The truth of the matter is that there is no data or scientific research that supports the benefit of using e-cigs when quitting smoking. Conversely, there has been preliminary data that shows chemicals within the e-cigs can be as harmful as regular cigarettes.
Since their arrival on the market in 2006, e-cigs have increased in popularity each year. As with regular cigarettes, these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are no guidelines or rules that dictate the safety and production of e-cigs. The amount of nicotine and additional chemicals vary from manufacturer to manufacturer without warning or notification to the smoker. These variables can lead to increased levels of nicotine in the body which can have very serious health effects. Also, while being advertised as a safe alternative to smoking, e-cigs can undermine physician recommended smoking interventions that have been shown to be safe and effective such as nicotine patches/gum, medical therapies and behavior modification.
While the Nebraska Smoke-Free Air Law does not prohibit e-cig use in public places, most establishments have banned them to eliminate confusion and issues with non-smoking customers. The use of e-cigs also “de-normalizes” the wide-held (and accurate) beliefs that smoking is bad for your health.
While e-cigs may be helpful in quitting smoking, they should not be used as a long-term solution and is it not known what effects they have on the body. The best way to live life tobacco and nicotine free is to quit all tobacco products, lit and unlit alike. Quitting tobacco isn’t easy. But most things in life that are worth it never are. Tobacco addiction did not happen overnight, neither will quitting. There will be ups and downs, but the ultimate goal is worth it.
Finding motivation and goals to help keep you on track and focused are important parts of quitting. Whether it is to be a better example for family members or to lead a better/healthier lifestyle; committing to quit tobacco is important. Speak to your health care provider to develop a plan specific to your needs, which may include a short term usage of e-cigs, with the ultimate goal of quitting completely. Additional resources can be found online at http://dhhs.ne.gov or by calling 1800-QUIT-NOW.