The Electronic Cigarette, or E-Cigarette, is a recently-introduced cigarette-shaped device which uses a small battery to provide a vaporized nicotine solution to the smoker. Many E-Cigarettes deliver a lower level of nicotine than conventional cigarettes, so the E-Cigarette is generally a slightly healthier alternative rather than a stop smoking aid.
Some research studies have indicated that the levels of nicotine in many brands of E-Cigarettes are well below the levels found in regular cigarettes, but the US Food and Drug Administration has recently issued a warning which discourages the use of E-Cigarettes due to the detected levels of harmful tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) and diethylene glycol. The World Health Organization has issued a press release stating that there is insufficient evidence to support the claims that the E-Cigarette is a useful device in smoking cessation programs.
Are E-Cigarettes Legal?
In the spring of 2009, the Canadian health authority stopped the sale of E-Cigarettes in Canada, citing health risks that warrant further study before sales are allowed to resume. In the United States, the FDA has classified E-Cigarettes as a "nicotine delivery system," which means E-Cigarettes are not legal in the United States until approved for use by the FDA. In many countries, E-Cigarettes are under a temporary ban while health authorities study their safety.
Depending upon the brand and the specific formula of the solution, the chemicals found in E-Cigarette solutions may contain:
- Propylene glycol, a solvent used for the delivery of the other ingredients.
- Nicotine, usually in concentrations of 0.1% to 6% of the solution.
- Glycerol, a solvent, sweetener, and humectant.
- Tobacco essence, to provide tobacco flavoring.
- Butyl valerate, a synthetic flavoring agent.
- Lauryl laurate, an emollient.
- Benzyl benzoate, a solvent and fixative.
- Ethyl heptylate, a flavoring agent.
- Hexyl hexanoate, a synthetic flavoring.
- Menthol, a minty flavoring with anti-irritant properties.
Customers can purchase E-Cigarettes from a large number of vendors online. In addition, there are several manufacturers of E-Cigarette products. One of the most highly rated E-Cigarettes, the Joytech 510, is available for purchase in a package, which includes two E-Cigarettes and 5 atomized cartridges for $69.95. Cartridges generally last as long as ten conventional cigarettes. Another manufacturer of several popular E-Cigarette models is NJoy; their E-Cigarette starter packages, which contain an electronic cartridge, four refill cartridges, two batteries, and a battery recharger, retail for $54.95. Many other E-Cigarette styles and packages are available for purchase, and some websites offer reduced or free shipping and money-back guarantees for customers who are not satisfied with their purchases.
Because E-Cigarette products can be expensive, manufacturers and retailers offer a multitude of coupons. The most common coupon seems to be for 10% off the total purchase price, but a few brands are discounted by 15% or even up to 30%. Coupons are also available for free or reduced-cost shipping from many retailer sites.
Do E-Cigarettes Work?
Almost all E-Cigarette products contain liquid nicotine, so the E-Cigarette is more accurately called a substitute for cigarettes than a stop smoking device. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance with multiple known health risks, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, stroke, and hyperglycemia. The FDA has not approved the use of E-Cigarettes, nor does the organization recommend the E-Cigarette as an effective aid for use in a smoking cessation program. While E-Cigarette manufacturers tout their products as a healthy alternative to cigarettes since they are free of tar and other chemical produced by tobacco when it burns, the product still contains nicotine, as well as a host of other chemical substances. The E-Cigarette is still too much of a newcomer to have produced valid study results as to its health risks, so until research has shown that E-Cigarettes are safe for consumption, the wise move is likely to wait to try them.
Customer testimonials regarding E-Cigarette products are generally positive but somewhat mixed. Some users enjoy the smoother taste of the vaporized solution in contrast to conventional cigarette smoke, and many had positive things to say about using the product without fear of reprisal in public. Other E-Cigarette users wrote in glowing terms about using E-Cigarettes, but acknowledged that they had essentially traded an addiction to regular cigarettes for an addiction to the new E-Cigarette product. In fact, some users rave about the E-Cigarette being "difficult to put down," and others are enthusiastically smoking their E-Cigarettes "anywhere and everywhere." These testimonials lead us to believe that the underlying cause of cigarette addiction, nicotine, is still affecting the users of the E-Cigarette products.
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