Why All the Fuss?

Smoking and vaping: why you should say “no” the first time and every time

By: Dr. Salim Surani

Vaping, smoking, puffing, sniffing, chewing and snorting seems like an adrenaline-pumping and exhilarating activity – at least, that’s what the tobacco and e-cigarette producers would like for consumers to believe. Cigarette smoking kills 480,000 Americans each year. This is equivalent to four jumbo jets crashing every single day, with no survivors.

If we consider tobacco issues worldwide, every six seconds, a person dies due to tobacco-related illnesses, and one in 10 people dies due to smoking. Unfortunately, this is not just limited to adults. In the United States, every day, 2,800 children try their first cigarette, leading to more than 250,000 new underage smokers per year. Surprisingly, 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking while they were in their teens and younger.

Tobacco industries spend almost $9 billion a year on tobacco marketing. According to research, 90.7 percent of middle-school children and 92.9 percent of high school children are exposed to tobacco advertising and marketing in some form. Smoking-related health care expenditures are $260 million a day and $260 million a day in loss of productivity.

Worldwide tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century. With this data in hand, it is no surprise that the United States still ranks in the top five tobacco-consuming countries worldwide.

Enormous effort has been made to educate the community worldwide regarding the hazards of smoking, ranging from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) to lung cancer. A new wave of e-cigarettes has taken over the nation. Whether it is helpful (which it may be in some cases) or harmful all depends on how it is used.

Those who make e-cigarettes claim that e-cigarettes are safe; however, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says, prove it. The marketing and advertisements for e-cigarettes are growing exponentially, with e-cigarette makers spending $60 million in promotion and advertisement. To date, e-cigarette sales have hit $2 billion.

Companies are increasing their marketing budgets by 300-plus percent, with major marketing strategies revolving around the idea that it is safe (which is an unproven claim). The FDA has not yet approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device, but e-cigarettes have been widely used.

The major concern that has shaken the health care workers is the potential for nicotine addiction, which is the most addictogenic substance, and the drastic increase in the numbers of new users, including teens, who feel the product is safe. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as several medical organizations, have raised their concern regarding the increased youth addiction on nicotine due to e-cigarette usage. In some of the e-cigarette cartridges of liquid, they have found 18mg or more of nicotine. For children, 10mg or more of nicotine can be dangerous.

The International Respiratory Society forum has also advocated against the use of e-cigarettes and suggested that it should be banned, at least until more information is available.

Now, how does an e-cigarette work? When the user inhales the e-cigarette, it activates the heating element. The e-cigarette solutions, which are composed of nicotine (the most addictogenic substance), liquid solvent (as propylene glycol) and the flavoring agent, are vaporized at that high temperature and inhaled by the person.

A recent study published in a major journal showed that high-voltage vaping creates formaldehyde, which is a cancer-producing substance. The risk of cancer from this substance was felt to be much greater than conventional cigarettes. Since e-cigarettes are not regulated, it is tough to know if the premier brand may be using higher voltage to give an extra nicotine kick and inadvertently increase the risk of cancer.

Despite the possible benefit to help in reducing the cigarette usage, the e-cigarette has not been approved as a smoking cessation measure, and it has been a potential route for creating more future smokers. In essence, tobacco and nicotine in any form may be habit forming and harmful. The best measure is to say “no” to smoking – the first time and every time.

 

For details on programs to combat smoking among children, visit www.itsyourlifefoundation.org.

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