Countless cigarette smokers may try e-cigarettes (e-cigs) to try and quit smoking, while many young people begin using e-cigs and go on to try other kinds of drugs. Dr. Adam Olson, a family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy, says e-cigarette users are introducing dangerous, untested chemicals into their bodies.
“Many people are convinced that e-cigarettes will help ween them off of regular cigarettes. In fact, they are not effective at all, compared to nicotine patches, lozenges, medications or even inhalers,” said Dr. Olson. “There is no such thing as a metered dose of nicotine from an e-cigarette, nor can you control the purity or the rate at which you are inhaling these substances.”
E-cigs are vaporizers; instead of burning tobacco, the mechanism uses a lithium battery to heat up a liquid. The liquid turns into vapor, which is then inhaled, or “vaped.” This cartridge is filled with highly potent liquid nicotine, flavorings, solvents, and additives. Users appreciate that e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, so there is no smoke, no carbon dioxide, and no odor. Rather, it’s a nicotine delivery device. But remember Dr. Olson’s concerns about dangerous, untested chemicals? Read on:
- Liquid nicotine, an e-liquid extracted from tobacco leaves, can be lethal. Just one ingested tablespoon can kill an adult. Tiny amounts absorbed through the skin cause vomiting, seizures or death. Children are especially attracted to some of the fruity flavorings added to the nicotine. In terms of poison risk, these e-liquids are far more dangerous than tobacco itself.
- The inconsistent quality of e-cigarette devices and e-liquids pose a risk to users because they may release metals and other impurities during use. Some have been found to release diethylene glycol (DEG), a toxic chemical ingredient also found in antifreeze.
- Diminished lung function and airway resistance and cellular changes consistently show up in e-cigarette users, regardless of whether or not they have ever been smokers.
- The Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) does not yet regulate e-cigarettes, so it’s a dangerous “Wild West” marketplace with manufacturers and retailers making up their own rules.
- Not enough science has been done to study the long-term effects of inhaling vaporized nicotine, so today’s users are setting themselves up as unwitting guinea pigs.
“These devices have been designed from the beginning to appeal to children. Fruity and candy-flavored nicotine is marketed the same way that traditional cigarettes were marketed 30 or 40 years ago,” said Dr. Olson. “My job is to help people regain their control over the use of nicotine, and e-cigarettes are neither safe nor effective. Instead, we work together to find a safe way to kick the nicotine habit.”
Do you need a doctor who will help you find solutions and be your advocate? Dr. Adam Olson of ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy is accepting new patients. Call his office directly at (920) 358-1900 to schedule an appointment or call ThedaCare On Call at (920) 830-6877 or go to www.thedacare.org and click on “Find a Doctor.”