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Electronic cigarettes soar in popularity

Electronic cigarettes, which allow users to smoke vaporized nicotine, are all the rage today, popularized in part by the increased social stigma surrounding traditional cigarettes. New reports indicate, however, that much the same way California pioneered the effort to ban traditional cigarettes they are also leading the charge to discourage e-cigarettes in public areas such as farmers markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, bars, nightclubs and outdoor dining areas. Other states such as Illinois and New York have also followed their lead.

What is an electronic cigarette?


An electronic cigarette is simply a portable device that heats up liquid nicotine and a substance called propylene glycol into a vapor that is inhaled by the smoker. Electronic cigarettes also do not contain tar, which is considered the most dangerous ingredient in the traditional cigarette.

What’s also notable is that electronic cigarettes are being heralded as a “safer” alternative for smokers who have not been able to stop smoking and who have been the relentless target of anti-smoking campaigns.

So are electronic cigarettes dangerous? It seems no one knows for sure. Experts suggest they do deliver nicotine faster than other cigarette substitutes, such as gum or lozenges, but they are not sure if they will be as addictive as traditional cigarettes. Without more data, medical experts are also hesitant to suggest the electronic cigarette is actually a “healthy alternative” to traditional smoking.

One concern is that the popularity of the electronic cigarette has outpaced the information needed to determine how safe they might be. This problem has left many lawmakers, tobacco companies, and scientists waiting for more information before they create new policies or issue statements.

Do electronic cigarettes need to be regulated?


While policy holders may be pushing for regulations, what is also not clear is whether or not the public actually needs protection from electronic cigarettes. As mentioned above, there is not conclusive evidence that electronic cigarettes pose any type of health risk to the public that second-hand smoking did, for instance.

The FDA, however, is taking a pro-active stance on the product and will be offering some criteria which will be addressed, including reviewing whether low levels of contaminants in e-cigarette vapor pose a health risk, whether product standards should be created, and the thresholds for toxicity of contaminants in vapor.

What we do know for sure is that electronic cigarettes can no longer be considered a passing fad. In fact, the sale of e-cigarettes in the United States has doubled each year since 2008, and the sales of the product have reached an estimated $1.7 billion.

Hypocrisy of the anti-smoking movement


The frenzy to demonize smoking when other questionable actions such as excessive drinking and pot smoking seem to remain unaffected is baffling. Do we really need more regulation against passive vaping? While there are some questions about the harmful emissions of electronic cigarettes, most researchers have found “no formaldehyde emissions and low emissions of volatile organic compounds.”

It seems it might be time to leave the electronic smokers alone and let them smoke in peace. I’m much more worried about getting killed in a car accident from a drunken driver than getting vaped by a little bit of water and volatile organic compounds.
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