Question from smoker

Question

Dear Doctor Duncombe, I’ve been seeing these electronic stands in shopping centres everywhere, and they promise to deliver the same experience without the health hazards. Could you please tell me a little bit more about them and how they differ from regular cigarettes? Plus, are they less dangerous and addictive?

Submitted by Smoker on 25 August 2014

Answer

Hi reader

Electronic cigarettes, or E-cigarettes, have increased in popularity and improved technology over the past few years. They have the following advantages over conventional cigarettes:

– they allow vapour to be inhaled instead of smoke and therefore don’t contain the dangerous cancer-forming chemicals which include formaldehyde, acetyldehyde, benzene, arsenic, cadmium, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to name a few.

– they allow the dosing of nicotine to be controlled to a certain degree.

– they pose less of a threat as secondary inhalants.

The disadvantages are that the nicotine dose can be exceeded and they could be more addictive as a result and they release vaporized propylene glycol as well as formaldehyde which may even get deeper into the lung tissues than cigarette smoke can.

Electronic cigarettes should be used only as a means of quitting smoking with the intention to quit the electronic cigarette as well, over time. They shouldn’t be used as an ongoing alternative to smoking and should not be regarded as a safe option. The nicotine drops dose should be reduced continually with use.

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