evaluated patient questions on e-cigarettes
from an online forum to understand the types of queries put forth by patients
and the knowledge of physicians on the topic
- The first electronic cigarettes
came out commercially in 2003, and were devised by Hon Lik, a pharmacist
and smoker from China.
- E- cigarettes or electronic
cigarettes are battery-operated devices fashioned to deliver nicotine with
flavorings and chemicals in vapor form rather than the traditional smoke
- E-cigarettes use as a quitting aid
for smoking is still unclear.
. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
contains over 4000
different chemicals and toxic substances such as nicotine, tar, carbon
monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic and DDT to name a few. Nicotine in the cigarette
makes it addictive; in small doses, it acts as a stimulant; in large doses, it
acts as a depressant and in even larger doses, is lethal.
‘E-cigarettes also known as electronic cigarettes or vapor cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative and aid in the cessation of traditional cigarette smoking.’
Since the introduction of commercially
available cigarettes in the 1800s, the cigarette has undergone a sea of change
and various studies have been done regarding its harmful effects. Governments
the world over have been trying to curb cigarette
by various campaigns and laws and regulations. However, due
to the addictive property of nicotine, some people find it very difficult to
quit its usage.
The newest generation of cigarettes, the
e- cigarettes or electronic cigarettes have been growing in popularity since
they are convenient to use, cheaper, and offer the same pleasurable sensation
felt when smoking a traditional cigarette. The e-cigarette also claims to be
safer than the traditional cigarette and helps habitual smokers quit the habit.
This claim has brought about the widespread use of the e-cigarettes in both
adults and teenagers and is a growing concern as there are very few studies
done on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes are
battery-operated devices, which resemble a regular cigarette. They consist of
three parts, a mouthpiece or cartridge, which contains the liquid (nicotine,
flavoring and chemicals), an atomizer or vaporizer - the heating device which
causes the production of the vapor, and the battery or power source - which
powers the heating element. Electronic cigarettes come in a variety of flavors
such as fruit, menthol, tobacco and dessert flavors.
When an individual uses an e-cigarette,
the puffing action activates the heating device, which turns the liquid in the
e-cigarette into vapor; this process of using an e-cigarette is known as "vaping
Some of the known side effects of
- They can blow up - as a result of
the batteries getting overheated.
- They can cause poisoning - especially
when used by young kids.
- They contain nicotine which is
addictive. If stopped suddenly, the individual can face withdrawal
- They can cause damage to unborn
babies if used by pregnant women.
In a recent study, researchers analyzed
questions put forth by individuals and answers given by licensed physicians on
e-cigarettes on an online health service.
The researchers found that:
- Most of the questions by patients
were based on the safety and side effects of e-cigarettes. About 34
percent of the questions pertained to the specific side effects and harms
of e-cigarettes, 27 percent were related to general safety and 19 percent
to use of e-cigarettes as aids to quit smoking. Other questions included
the comparison of harmful effects of e-cigarettes to those of normal
cigarettes, use of the cigarettes in the presence of pre-existing medical
conditions, and about nicotine-free e-cigarettes.
- With respect to the answers given
by the physicians, 47 percent of answers focused on the negative aspects
of e-cigarettes like risks of the e-cigarettes and discouraging patients
from using them. Around 20 percent of the answers were positive, for
example, encouraged the use of e-cigarettes for quitting conventional
cigarettes. "The existing research, however, does not indicate that
e-cigarettes help people quit combustible cigarettes," Prochaska said.
"This is an area in need of greater study." Other opinions were either
neutral or contradictory.
- The satisfaction of the patient
with the answer was gauged depending on which the patient pressed the
thanks button. A positive response from the physician received a thanks
The study re-iterates the urgent need to
evaluate the benefits and risks of e-cigarettes and keep physicians as well as
the general public informed about the same.
- Brown-Johnson CG et al. Online Patient-Provider E-cigarette Consultations: Perceptions of Safety and Harm. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.06.018
- History of Tobacco - (http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/tobacco/Unit1/2history_of.html)
- Electronic Cigarettes Drug Facts - (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes)