If you thought that electronic cigarettes are safer for you than the regular cancer-causing smokes, think again. Tom Holloway, a father of three from Niceville in Florida was puffing on his electronic cigarette when it exploded in his mouth and severely injured him. While Tom is recovering in the hospital, the debate is heating up about the usefulness, danger and the lack of legislation of electronic cigarettes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 438,000 Americans die each year as a consequence of tobacco smoking or from being exposed to secondhand smoke. But, the addiction to tobacco is powerful and many people are desperately trying various devices in the attempt to kick the habit, or at least to minimize the danger from smoking. When electronic cigarettes came to the market a few years ago, many Americans embraced them as a perfect solution. Problem is that we know very little about electronic cigarettes, and there is no legislation to control their production, quality of safety. There is absolutely no scientific support to the claim that they can help kick the tobacco addiction, and very little research about their general safety.
What exactly are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are electronic devices that look very much like regular cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through a tiny atomizer. They are powered by a rechargeable battery and produce neither smoke nor smell. The nicotine comes from a cartridge, where it is mixed with water, glycerin or propylene glycol and flavorings. It can have the flavor of your favorite Marlboro, or it can taste like chocolate, strawberries or Boston cream. Since they do not emit any smoke, they can be used anywhere where smoking is banned. Some electronic cigarettes are nicotine-free, but the manufacturers are advertising them mostly as a safe replacement to regular nicotine and carcinogens laced cigarettes. Or at least that is what they say. Their sale is unregulated as well, and the nice flavors make them very attractive to the kids.
What are we smoking?
World Health Organization, National Cancer Society, and American Lung Association, consider electronic cigarettes potentially unsafe, because of complete lack of control and regulation. The Food and Drug Administration has been unsuccessfully battling in courts for the right to control electronic cigarettes as any other tobacco product, such as patches. There is complete lack of scientific research regarding the safety of the vapor used to deliver nicotine in electronic cigarettes. Consequently, potential health hazard is unknown.
Basically, it comes to the fact that we are on our own when it comes to the safety, and usefulness, of electronic cigarettes. Whether their danger is in the nicotine mist you are inhaling, or from the exploding battery, like Mr. Holloway from Florida, it is up to you to evaluate the risk vs. benefit, if you cannot kick the smoking habit any other way. But, kids caught smoking them should be grounded just like they would be if caught smoking regular “cancer sticks.”
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