Many people choose to initiate important health changes on Jan. 1, with a New Year’s resolution. One of the best choices a person can make is to stop smoking.
We all know how harmful smoking is — both for the smoker and people nearby. We also know how difficult it can be for some to stop. There are a variety of effective and affordable ways to help people stop their tobacco addiction. But smokers must know that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are not an FDA-approved method to stop smoking. In fact, these e-cigarettes may just be another way to stay addicted. All of the major cigarette companies are also in the e-cigarette business.
What is so alarming is that while we have made progress in reducing nicotine addiction from cigarettes, new generations of people may be at risk of becoming new nicotine addicts from the use of these products.
E-cigarettes come in many flavors appealing to youth, including bubble gum, gummy bear and multiple fruit flavors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that the use of e-cigarettes has been doubling over the past several years, even among middle-school students. E-cigarettes have been promoted as a safe alternative to smoking, or a way to quit smoking. I have been unable to find any credible scientific research that supports those claims. Smoking has been recognized for years by the U.S. surgeon general and the CDC as a major cause of many cancers, stroke and heart disease. Nicotine is a contributor to hypertension, stomach ulcers and vascular damage to major organs.
Many businesses, cities and other government agencies ban e-cigarettes. For example, both Eureka and Arcata treat e-cigarettes as addictive and unhealthy, just like traditional cigarettes, and their use is prohibited in most public settings.
E-cigarettes have never been approved by the FDA as a tool to help people quit, nor are they considered safer than regular cigarettes. Chemical analysis of leading brands has revealed the obvious presence of nicotine and other potentially dangerous chemicals that can harm the user and also bystanders (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009).
The health benefits to those who stop smoking are immediate and profound. Within 24 hours of stopping, the risk of a sudden heart attack decreases significantly, and within two weeks, both circulation and lung function increase dramatically. Coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue all decrease, circulation improves and overall cancer risk decreases over time. This is in addition to saving approximately $5 per day if you smoke one pack a day.