E-cigarettes have exploded in popularity in recent years with proponents claiming they offer a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and a more effective cessation method than traditional nicotine replacement therapies like gum and transdermal patches. E-cigarettes vaporize an “e-liquid” to which different levels of nicotine and flavorings are added. A study by Drexel University School of Public Health professor Igor Burstyn suggests that contaminants in e-cigarettes are below levels that would pose health risks.
Still, many question the relative safety of e-cigarettes, arguing that the long-term health effects of the products are still unknown. Moreover, opponents claim that the sweet and fruity flavors of e-liquid offered by manufacturers demonstrate that the products are being marketed to minors. Eugene based company Emerald Vapors, for example, sells flavors such as Strawberry Cotton Candy, Apple Pie and Pina Colada. In response to these claims, e-cigarettes are now prohibited by most Oregon school districts, and the state legislature has moved to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. However, some opponents claim that these restrictions do not go far enough, suggesting that the state should seek to regulate the products more stringently and impose an excise tax similar to those on tobacco and alcohol.
Have you tried e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking? Did you manage to abstain from cigarettes, and do you continue to use the e-cigarette?
- Carolyn Tomei: Oregon state representative (D-Milwaukee)
- Carl Phillips: Scientific Director of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association