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E-Cigarettes: Friend or Foe?

The new, harmless (?) way of smoking is everywhere these days. Short term and long term smokers alike are using them to kick the habit.

The rise of E-Cigarettes has been widespread; 'vape' has even been awarded word of year by Oxford Dictionary. If you're not using one then I'll bet you know someone who is. The recent surge of "vapers" has led to vast surveys and studies, highlighted in the media, to gain a greater understanding of this development. Almost every day there is a new stat condemning or supporting e-cigarettes.

A recent study reported by the BBC showed that "three times as many children have tried e-cigarettes as have smoked tobacco". Furthermore, the study stated that 6% of 10 to 11-year-olds in Wales said they had used e-cigarettes compared to 2% who had smoked tobacco. And now many people are becoming concerned about the potential for e-cigarette use as a gateway to smoking tobacco.

Are E-Cigarettes healthy or not?

But how much do we really know about this new innovation. Could it be that we are repeating history: From the 1930s to the 1950s doctors and physicians lit up while advising patients and possibly even while prescribing a pack of 20. Health experts in Japan have discovered high levels of chemicals including 'Acetaledehyde' and 'Formaldehyde' in the fluid used in e-cigarettes, two known carcinogens (toxins directly involved in causing cancer). The findings have given impetus for the FDA's recent proposal to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The discovery of these chemicals in the devices has added momentum to this proposal, which could be damning for the unique benefits e-cigarettes rely on in the commercial markets.

On the other hand, there are calls for the devices to be regulated as a medicine. Although they are widely marketed as a replacement for smoking, they cannot currently be regarded as a medicine and we cannot, therefore, be assured of the level of nicotine included in the device regardless of what the packaging states. What most are concerned about, are the long term effects of the device. The product hasn't been around long enough for the market to be aware of the long term impacts on the human body.

There are currently plans to re-regulate the products as a medicine in 2016, suggesting medical professionals are confident in the benefits. Stringent measures will be placed on the manufacturing processes of the device and doctors will be able to prescribe them - you never know, soon you may even receive a prescription by a doctor 'vaping' on a plastic pipe!



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7th April 2015

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