Free Banning The Public Use Of E-Cigarettes: Assessing Benefits And Harms Of Vaping Essay Sample
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The problem of widespread smoking is undoubtedly something that every country worldwide faces. Its negative impacts on health are already well-established that it has already prompted various authorities worldwide to take an action and reduce its debilitating effects on people—both smokers and non-smokers. In light of such efforts, various methods to persuade smokers to quit smoking tobacco and cigarettes, especially in public places, have been promoted and among these is the use of what is now called the electronic cigarette or e-cigarette. E-cigarette is widely viewed as a replacement to conventional tobacco-products used for smoking. As a replacement to conventional tobacco products, e-cigarettes are considered to be safer, cheaper, and better alternatives to conventional cigarettes (Palazzolo, 2013). Furthermore, e-cigarettes are also being widely regarded for its potential to aid in smoking cessation (Palazzolo, 2013). With this identity, e-cigarettes have rapidly gained worldwide attention and support. But in-depth analysis of their implications on health reveals that they are not as safe as they are largely depicted by various marketing techniques. E-cigarette still imposes health risks to both firsthand and secondhand smokers and actions to ban the use of it in public places are necessary to be considered nowadays.
E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes, as the name implies, are devices designed to mimic the effects of a conventional cigarette. First conceptualized in 1963 by Herbert A. Gilbert and finally invented or put into materialization 40 years later by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices designed to produce aerosolized nicotine through the heating up of a solution, called e-liquid, composed of propylene glycol or glycerine, nicotine, and other flavoring agents (Barbeau et al., 2013; Bekki et al., 2014; Grana et al., 2014).Such mechanism involved in e-cigarettes differ from conventional tobacco cigarettes in that, the latter needs to combust tobacco to produce smoke (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Combustion of tobacco is the main reason why conventional cigarette smoking is dangerous and the fact that e-cigarettes lack such process makes them relatively safer or less toxic (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). In general, the presence of aerosolized nicotine in the absence of actual tobacco combustion makes e-cigarettes a more preferable choice than conventional cigarettes or a way for smokers to gradually quit smoking (Grana et al., 2014).
E-cigarettes indeed are less toxic compared to conventional cigarettes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Lacking the combustion present in conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not emit side-stream smoke and the toxins present in the aerosols are relatively lower than those found in the smoke of traditional cigarettes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014). This breakthrough feature of e-cigarettes is the very reason why it is also extensively marketed to be safer and beneficial in smoking cessation among smokers (Barbeau et al., 2013; Callahan-Lyon, 2014). As reported, e-cigarettes’ capacity to mimic the sensation produced by conventional cigarette in the absence of tobacco combustion has been helpful in helping smokers quit smoking without the debilitating effects of abrupt withdrawal (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). In one study measuring the efficacy of e-cigarette as a smoking cessation tool, it was shown that 22.5% of smokers subjected to the use of e-cigarette in replacement of conventional cigarette manifested complete cessation after the 6-month trial (Barbeau et al., 2013). Another 32.5% of the group, on the other hand, showed reduced smoking activity and cigarette consumption by 50% (Barbeau et al., 2013). Furthermore, respondents who have reported using e-cigarettes on an average of 20 times per day had manifested withdrawal rate amounting to 70%—result higher than any other existing smoking-cessation programs (Barbeau et al., 2013). As was explained by one study, such result may be attributed to the ability of e-cigarettes to provide the sensation of actual smoking while making the smoker gradually resistant to cigarette craving (Barbeau et al., 2013). Aside from aiding in smoking cessation, e-cigarettes are also widely used for other benefits that are based on the loose regulatory control imposed on these products.
Respondents stating preference of e-cigarettes over conventional cigarettes have pointed out the former’s price, variability, safety, and availability (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014). As stated by one study, e-cigarettes became more preferable to smokers because they are cheaper and safer (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014). Aside from that, the wide array of flavors available to e-cigarettes has also become an added feature that attracts more and more consumer to use the product, especially those who are still at the experimenting stage (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). The loose regulation laws authorities enforce regarding the distribution and marketing of e-cigarettes are also seen as another reason for the increasing popularity of the product (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Respondents said that there is more freedom in using e-cigarettes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014). Indeed, e-cigarettes have a very promising potential in significantly reducing the cases of smoking as well as of its implications (Barbeau et al., 2013). They can also help in substantially reducing the worldwide consumption of tobacco cigarettes. However, despite being safer than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not completely safe as claimed by their advocates.
E-cigarettes, despite being pictured or represented in marketing strategies as completely safe, are still not 100% safe. Although it is safer than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes still have adverse effects on the health of people who consume them. Both firsthand and secondhand smokers of e-cigarettes face an array of adversities that are oftentimes overlooked or intentionally ignored by manufacturers and/or other marketing bodies that purposely promote the consumption of products. First among these adversities are the chemicals used in e-liquids which include propyl glycol or glycerine and nicotine (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014). Propyl glycol or glycerine in e-liquids used to create aerosols can cause irritation of the mouth, throat and even eyes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Such adverse symptoms may affect both the smoker and the secondhand smokers (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Glycol and glycerol contents of aerosol in e-liquids, which are also used in theatre productions, are known irritants of the upper respiratory airway and mucous membranes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Also such components of e-cigarette aerosols can also cause respiratory impairment in forms of respiratory impedance and respiratory flow resistance—adversities that may also be observed in conventional cigarette smokers (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). In a clinical setting, propyl glycol and glycerine are often used to increase the efficacy of inhalants (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Given this, we can say that propyl glycol or glycerine in e-cigarettes can help in hastening body’s absorption of nicotine and other components of e-liquids delivered via aerosol. Since nicotine, at high doses can be toxic to the body, its increased rate of absorption through glycerine may be detrimental to the body, especially considering FDA’s finding of high variability in nicotine content delivered per “puff” of e-cigarettes (Callahan-Lyon, 2014; Grana et al., 2014; Simon, 2011). As was discussed in the FDA’s report, a single puff of e-cigarette can contain 26.8 up to 43.2 μg of nicotine—a wide range considering that every full puff contains closely-uniformed amounts of aerosol (Simon, 2011). This high variability in the actual nicotine delivered by every puff of e-cigarette combined with the enhanced absorption caused by propyl glycol or glycerine may increase the toxicity of nicotine within the body. This adversity would not just affect firsthand e-cigarette smokers but also those secondhand smokers who get exposed to the vapors of e-cigarettes from their surroundings.
Aside from irritation and respiratory impairments, chemicals of e-cigarettes can also be harmful in other ways. The nicotine produced by e-cigarettes actually has high affinity to surfaces that may last from weeks to months (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Such likelihood of nicotine to remain on surfaces can attract ambient nitrous acids which may yield TSNAs or tobacco-specific nitrosamines (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). TSNAs are carcinogenic when inhaled, ingested, or exposed to skin, making both firsthand and secondhand exposures to it ultimately hazardous (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). The fact that e-cigarettes may contribute largely to the formation of TSNAs is one of the reasons why banning e-cigarette use from public must be taken into serious consideration. Aside from such adversities, e-cigarette fumes and solutions may also impose serious health risks to children and pregnant women.
Since e-cigarettes have refill cartridges of flavored and nice-smelling solution, children often get curious about it, resulting to accidental/unintentional ingestion of e-liquids which may be life-threatening (Callahan-Lyon, 2014). Aside from this, the vapors or smoke coming from e-cigarettes contain not just glycerine and nicotine but also other components that may be carcinogenic or cytotoxic (i.e., toxic to cells). Such compounds include the carbonyls formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and glyoxal which are all detrimental to health (Bekki et al., 2014). The flavorings used are also dangerous especially to pregnant women (Grana et al., 2014). As demonstrated by a research finding, stem cells exposed to various concentrations and types of flavorings used for e-cigarettes showed significant damages, suggesting that flavored aerosols of particular types and concentration can cause cytotoxicity of the embryo (Grana et al., 2014).
As showed above, the adversities of e-cigarette seems to overshadow its benefits, making the call for its ban from public places an important step to ensure the safety of many against the lifestyle preference of few. As showed by the researches tackled in this editorial, e-cigarettes are indeed highly potent in providing an effective tool or method for smoking cessation. However, its current adverse effects need to be largely evaluated and considered. Why put the health of millions of non-smokers at risk to give way to those who smoke for no substantial reason? While smokers may opt to using e-cigarettes to help themselves in abandoning smoking habits, their choice of venue and time of using e-cigarettes must be regulated to avoid the likelihood of other people getting exposed to the negative effects of e-cigarettes and their aerosols. Currently, regulatory actions on the distribution and marketing of e-cigarettes must be improved and include the banning of it from public places to protect potential secondhand smokers.
E-cigarettes are devices developed in 2003 that are designed to mimic the sensation and mechanism of conventional cigarettes but without the combustion of tobacco (Barbeau et al., 2013; Bekki et al., 2014; Grana et al., 2014). E-cigarettes are seen as a tool that aids in the cessation of smoking (Barbeau et al., 2013). While e-cigarettes show significant potential in smoking cessation programs, they still have substantial and serious health implications which include irritations, poisoning, and risk for cancer and/or cytotoxicity. Given this, effective legislation to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places must be put into materialization to protect non-smokers who may be exposed to the negative effects of e-cigarette liquids and aerosol.
Barbeau, A.M., Burda, J., and Siegel, M. (2013). Perceived efficacy of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy among successful e-cigarette users: a qualitative approach. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 8(5), 1-7. DOI: 10.1186/1940-0640-8-5
Bekki, K., Uchiyama, S., Ohta, K., Inaba, Y., Nakagome, H., and Kunugita, N. (2014). Carbonyl Compounds Generated from Electronic Cigarettes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11, 11192-11200. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph111111192
Callahan-Lyon, P. (2014). Electronic cigarettes: human health effects. Tobacco Control, 23, ii36-ii40. DOI: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051470
Grana, R., Benowitz, N., and Glantz, S.A. (2014). E-Cigarettes: A Scientific Review. Circulation, 129, 1972-1986. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.007667
Palazzolo, D.L. (2013). Electronic cigarettes and vaping: a new challenge in clinical medicine and public health. A literature review. Frontiers in Public Health, 1(56), 1-20. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00056
Simon, H.B. (2011). Electronic cigarettes: Help or hazard? Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/electronic-cigarettes-help-or-hazard-201109223395
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