Over the last few years, electronic cigarettes, also called ‘e-cigarettes,’ have become more and more popular, particularly as a substitute for smoking, with e-cigarette companies claiming that they are healthier and safer than actual cigarettes. While these claims may appear promising in regards to the health of smokers, there is little data and evidence to validate these claims. E-cigarettes are very similar to traditional cigarettes in that they are a delivery system for nicotine, but are claimed to be ‘safer’: however, there is scant evidence and data to verify this claim, and thus e-cigarettes should be banned.
E-cigarettes are analogous to traditional cigarettes in that they deliver nicotine to the user, along with other flavors and chemicals, but rather in the form of vapor, instead of smoke. They are made to mimic the appearance of actual cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and even USB memory sticks. Currently, there are well over 250 types of e-cigarette models/brands that have been made available on the market (“Drugfacts,” 1).

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The e-cigarette is comprised of three primary constituents: a cartridge, heating device, and a power source. The cartridge is constructed so that it can hold a liquid solution, which is made up of nicotine, various flavors, and several chemicals. The heating device, or vaporizer, delivers the nicotine to the user via vapor, instead of smoke. The power source is most commonly a battery. E-cigarettes activate when they are puffed, which turns on the battery-powered device. This then vaporizes the liquid within the cartridge, producing a vapor for the user to inhale. This is called ‘vaping’ (“Drugfacts,” 1). When the e-cigarette is placed between the lips of the user and then sucked, this begins the heating element, vaporizing the nicotine solution to produce a vapor that can be inhaled. This is analogous to how traditional cigarettes operate, making it simple for both new smokers and ex-smokers to learn.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as being a safer and healthier alternative to actual cigarettes, there is scant data to substantiate this, reinforcing the many reasons as to why e-cigarettes should be banned. In spite of this, many users believe that using e-cigarettes will aid them in eventually quitting smoking, or perhaps reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke every day (Nordqvist, 1). Many e-cigarette companies advertise their products are being far less detrimental to users’ health when compared to other tobacco smoking products, but research has yet to confirm this. Therefore, the long-term health effects for users are largely unknown.

Another prominent concern in regards to the use of e-cigarettes is the high possibility of these devices appealing to non-smokers, and hence may become an indirect route of switching non-smokers to active smokers of tobacco cigarettes. In spite of this, most users seem to concur that e-cigarettes present an insignificant health risk when compared to customary smoking cigarettes. However, other countries, including Australia and Canada, have already opted to ban these devices, due to their unknown health effects on users (Nordqvist, 1).

In a research project published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, several countries, such as the UK, Australia, USA, and Canada, studied the beliefs and perceptions of e-cigarettes. 6,000 people were surveyed in this study, which found that knowledge/awareness of e-cigarettes was most high among 13-24 year old individuals, with the majority of persons being located in the USA (Nordqvist, 1). In addition, awareness of e-cigarettes was highest in non-minority groups and those with a higher income. 70% also believed that e-cigarettes were less harmful to one’s health (Nordqvist, 1). Also worth noting from this study was the finding that nearly four-fifths of those surveyed who utilized e-cigarettes believed these devices to be less harmful than actually smoking, while nearly 80% believed they helped them to smoke less overall. Additionally, nearly 90% of users also believed that the devices could be useful in quitting smoking eventually (Nordqvist, 1).

These results from this investigation are indeed telling when analyzing the perceptions and beliefs of e-cigarettes. According to the lead researcher of this study, Dr. O’Connor: “Should regulatory authorities approve direct claims about reduced harm, one might expect greater adoption of these products…” (Adkison, 1). As a result, copious amounts of evidence and data are essential for any of these claims to be validated, in addition as to whether e-cigarettes are actually helpful in aiding smokers to quit smoking altogether. However, no such evidence or data has been set forth, and thus the verdict remains inconclusive.

As the evidence is inconclusive in regards to the health effects of e-cigarettes, they present a considerable risk to the general public. Though it may be that they are less harmful than traditional smoking products, this claim is still unsubstantiated; therefore, it is unknown just how safe or dangerous these devices actually are. Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable sickness and death within America, with at least 400,000 deaths every year, as a result (“Drugfacts,” 1). Whether nicotine is delivered through smoke or vapor, as it is with e-cigarettes, it is still quite harmful and unhealthy, particularly if one considers just how much a person may be vaping or smoking every day.

In conclusion, e-cigarettes should be banned, as there is insufficient data and evidence in regards to their health effects on users. While they may deliver less nicotine and chemicals to users overall, this has yet to be shown in research and thus they cannot be considered a safe alternative to traditional smoking. Regardless of many users’ beliefs, one cannot deny that the inhalation of nicotine and other harmful chemicals is dangerous and harmful to one’s health, whether it is through smoke or vapor.

    References
  • Adkison, Sarah. “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems: International Tobacco Control Four-Country Survey.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 44, Issue 3 Mar. 2013: Elsevier.
  • “Drugfacts: Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes).” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 1 Aug. 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. .
  • Nordqvist, Christian. “E-Cigarettes May Help Reduce Tobacco Smoking.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. .