by Krystal Paco
Guam - There's no tobacco, no ashes, and no smell. And although they're marketed as an alternative to cigarette smoking, health professionals aren't pleased with the latest nicotine-delivery device to hit the markets.
"E-cigarettes are the latest fad when it comes to the tobacco epidemic but there's no tobacco in the e-cigarette. What you do have is a cartridge that has nicotine what you find in tobacco and some other chemicals. It's basically a nicotine delivery device," said Dr. Annette David. And if something sounds too good to be true, David, a University of Guam adjunct research faculty member, says it probably is.
"You have something that looks like a cigarette. On one end, you have the cartridge that contains the liquid with nicotine and on the other end you have a battery and in between them you have a heating chamber. So really what it does is it heats up the liquid and vaporizes it and that's what you inhale. It's vapor. It's not smoke because there's no burning but instead it is a vapor, which is why some people call e-cigarettes 'vaping'," she explained.
But even with tobacco out of the equation, Dr. David says there's little research to prove e-cigarettes are in fact safe. "There's really not very good data out there on what the hazards are but some of things that we do know, number one the nicotine that's there is as addictive or maybe even more addictive than what you would find in a cigarette. That's because depending on how often you use the e-cigarette and depending on the strength of the cartridge you put in you actually can be putting in more nicotine than if you were just smoking your cigarettes," she said.
But what's most alarming? Dr. David says most people don't realize that nicotine is a poison and its most popular use next to cigarette smoking? Killing insects. "There are such things as nicotine intoxication we don't normally see them with adults but with the amount of nicotine you have in the cartridge if a small child were to get that and inhale that, then there is a very real risk of toxicity so that's the other thing," she said.
Even worse, because they're not FDA regulated, companies aren't required to reveal additional ingredients in e-cigarette cartridges. Although they're marketed as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, Dr. David says there's little evidence to support such claims. "In a sense, its less harmful than a cigarette that you don't get the same amount of cancer causing chemicals that come when you burn the tobacco but the FDA has said that in preliminary studies they have measured carcinogens from the vapor of the e-cigarettes. 0348 maybe less harmful but it is not safe," she said.
"Use it at your own risk. At this point it's not regulated by the FDA so we really don't have much science to go by but clearly this is something that was created to maintain the addiction. The addiction to the product. We do have to think of the industry as very much vested in protecting their profit margins. And less and less people are smoking now because of all the good laws and policies we have. There is a lot of pressure on the industry to find an alternative product that will keep the profits going, and what's the best way to keep the profits going? Keep your users addicted."
If you're wondering about nicotine patches, Dr. David clarifies that patches deliver nicotine in a controlled manner while maintaining itself in your bloodstream.
On the other hand, e-cigarettes provide your body with a spike of nicotine. When that spike drops, you'll be guaranteed to want more - making it a dangerous and possibly deadly device.