E-Cigarettes and Safety Concerns
We all know that tobacco is hazardous to our health. Despite years of pro-tobacco lobby a group of dedicated citizens and NGOs have managed to break the hold of one of the most potent lobbies and convince the state to impose proper regulation on an industry that was indirectly costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Yet despite increased regulation, limitations and increase costs smoking is going down at a very slow rate. The reason for this is generally the physical dependence threshold that tobacco has on heavy smokers , one of the highest of all known drugs. Nicotine has a powerful addictive effect but thanks to NRT and electronic cigarettes the number of smokers is going down faster than ever.
E-cigarettes are now widely available, for instance blu cigs are available from street vendrs in New York. This mainstream acceptance, however has led to several concerns over the safety of the devices. Several consumer groups have raised these issues and, more recently several US states and the FDA. The FDA cannot, of course, do anything about e-cigarettes and they contain no tobacco by-products and thus are not under FDA jurisdiction. This hasn’t stopped the government body from criticizing the spread of the devices and to raise safety concerns that are for the most unfounded.
The main concern raised by the FDA and other bodies is the potential for nicotine abuse. While usually the amount of nicotine one can inhale is reduced due to their inability to absorb a lot at a time and the effects of smoke which have a moderately long recovery period in all but the most hardcore smokers, with an electronic cigarette you could theoretically inhale quite a bit of nicotine at a time, enough for it to become poisonous. Of course, e-cigarette companies have addressed the problem quite a while ago through the introduction of lower concentration cartridges. Cartridges nowadays contain no more than the equivalent of a pack of tobacco cigarettes.
Another issue is the potential of abuse and use as a ‘gateway’ by teenagers who could then ‘graduate’ to tobacco. The point is just as moot, of course as there are even stricter safeguards ensuring that only people who are legally allowed to smoke can obtain e-cigarettes.
A recent study from the UK claims that e-cigarettes are ‘still harmful although to a lesser degree’. This is, of course true and nobody is denying it. Nicotine is poisonous but it is also very addictive and it is this addiction that e-cigs are helping to fight. Pushing for e-cigarettes to be banned because they are not 100% harmless is like pushing for condoms to be banned because they are not 100% reliable in combatting STDs, and advocating abstinence instead.