To better understand what electronic cigarettes are and learn about their potential for public health, the BBC spoke Joel Nitzkin, Head of Tobacco Control at the American Association of Public Health Physicians.
“When a person uses an e-cigarette and inhales the vapor, they refer to it as ‘vaping’ instead of smoking, because there is no smoke, there is no combustion. There is only vapor.” In regards to safety, Dr. Nitzkin stated that a tobacco smokers’ risk of lung damage, cancer and heart disease were mostly due to chemicals present in cigarette smoke; not nicotine itself. In fact, many of the most dangerous carcinogens found in cigarette smoke are a direct result of combustion. Nicotine, alone, is almost totally harmless.
He did, however, explain that there are currently a few drawbacks to e-cigs. Electronic cigarettes are not regulated by any government authority. Lack of regulation opens the market to companies more interested in turning a profit than maintaining high-quality standards. This might expose the recipient of a sub-par product to some additional risk. Though, Dr. Nitzkin went on to say, “Even with the worst of standards [in electronic cigarettes], the risk will not approach the risk posed by conventional cigarettes”.
When questioned about why the government had not stepped in with regulation, Dr. Nitzkin explained that federal agencies have set a goal for a tobacco free society. They are very reluctant to endorse, in either a direct or indirect way, any smoke-free product; fearing that it may induce more young people to begin consuming nicotine, due to the reduced hazard.
Listen to the Joel Nitzkin audio interview below:
Tags: electronic cigarettes