E-Cigarettes: A healthier alternative?

UTSA kinesiology scholars William Cooke and Donovan Fogt, in partnership with Assistant Professor Caroline Rickards at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, are conducting a research study on the effects of E-cigarettes on the health of individuals.

“This study is an important first step to understanding the physiological complications and public health concerns surrounding the use of e-cigarettes,” commented Dr. William Cooke in an interview with BioNews Texas. “It will also give us a better understanding of the health effects of pure nicotine, without the harmful poisons found in tobacco products, on the autonomic nervous system.”

The electronic cigarette is a device that vaporizes liquid nicotine for body absorption. Since its introduction to the market in 2007 it has been marketed by companies as a healthier alternative to smoking, since the burning of tobacco that releases carcinogens are not involved.

The marketing seems to be effective, as a growing number of people are switching to this method of nicotine consumption. In fact, due to an increase in e-cigarette consumers, the industry is projected to acquire $1 billion in revenue by the end of 2013.

“As a former smoker, I am agitated by the traditional smoke scent, so I prefer being around smokers who use e-cigs because there is no scent. E-cigs also help eliminate secondhand smoke problems” says Billy Acevedo, a biology major at UTSA.

Although e-cigarettes have no scent and use vapor, many still question their health benefits.

During a recent investigation, researchers at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis found out that some electronic cigarette products contained very low levels of nitrosamines, ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol— chemicals that are linked to cancer. However, the levels were lower in e-cigarettes than they were in tobacco cigarettes.

In an interview with The Guardian, Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco, said, “There’s no question that e-cigarettes deliver fewer [toxic substances] than conventional cigarettes, but the question of how much less is still not clear.”

There has been little to no concrete research done on the long term or short term health effects of e-cigarettes, or if it aids or reduces addiction, but it at least seems like a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking.

“With e-cigarettes you’re vaporizing, not actually smoking. Smoke will damage your lungs no matter what the smoke is from, so that’s one advantage of e-cigarettes— you’re not putting smoke in your lungs,” Christopher Jiggle, an online student at UTSA who is well versed on smoking mediums, said. “You are still getting nicotine but nicotine is not the most cancer causing thing in the cigarette, most of the cancer causing things are in the paper, the filter and the other chemical products they put in a tobacco cigarette. There is also flame retardant paper or fire safe cigarette paper that has a lot of harmful chemicals and is really bad for a lot of people who might be allergic to it. They created these papers to stop cigarettes from going up in flames when you light them, but they are not good for you.”

He also said Vaporizing is the healthiest way to smoke right now.