By Millie Pope | Image – Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock.com
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes have become almost trendy among smokers that do not want to give up to the pleasure or relief that smoking provides them, or among those that want to quit but find it hard to do it drastically. The selling success of e-cigarettes is a result of promotional campaigns that present them as a smoking cessation aid. Moreover, they are marketed as a healthier alternative to typical cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are small devices, with a shape similar to that of conventional cigarettes, that deliver a vapor that contains different levels of nicotine, and even come in different flavors. Even though electronic cigarettes emit a vapor that resembles smoke, there is no combustion process involved.
However, are electronic cigarettes actually safe and efficient reducing tobacco dependence?
Unfortunately, long-term effects of e-cigarettes are yet unknown. Despite that some data indicate that e-cigarettes may be efficacious in the reduction of conventional cigarettes consumption, we still do not have enough data to prove that they really help to total cessation. Moreover, it is yet unclear which their long-term carcinogenic and lungs function effects are¹.
Regarding the efficacy of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aid, an international study showed that although 85% of smokers that recurred to electronic cigarettes to quit smoking, they did not quite more frequently that those who did not utilized-cigarettes to quit².
As we mentioned, long-term effects of e-cigarettes need more studies to be conducted. However, there is already evidence that suggests that they are a less harmful option to conventional smoking since there is no tobacco and no combustion process involved in e-cigarettes. Although electronic cigarettes release some toxic chemicals, their levels are significantly lower than those of tobacco smoke. Although that there is some residual risk linked to the use of e-cigarettes, it is probably less significant than the risk of smoking conventional cigarettes³.
To sum up, electronic cigarettes are a revolutionary option to reduce tobacco consumption, and evidence suggests that their negative consequences may be lower than those of traditional cigarettes, though there is still the need to conduct studies on the long-term effects of them. So far, they seem to be a healthier option to conventional smoking, and a way to reduce tobacco consumption, although they still haven´t proved actually to be effective in total cigarettes- smoking cessation. For this reason, regulations should prohibit advertising them as an effective smoking cessation alternative. Electronic cigarettes appear to be a better or healthier option than traditional cigarettes, which does not mean that they do not carry any health risks.
Drummond MB, Upson D. Electronic cigarettes. Potential harms and benefits. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 Feb;11(2):236-42.
Grana RA, Popova L, Ling PM. A longitudinal analysis of electronic cigarette use and smoking cessation. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 May;174(5):812-3.
- Farsalinos KE, Polosa R. Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2014 Apr;5(2):67-86