In the 50 years since the surgeon general announced that cigarette smoking was found to have a direct link to lung cancer, it has been uncovered that tobacco use leads to many other serious health issues. To this date, tobacco use remains the #1 leading cause of preventable death and disease in this country.
In recent years a new alternative to traditional tobacco products has appeared on the scene: electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. If you’re wondering about the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes, your health care provider is an excellent resource for information. If you’re considering using electronic cigarettes, there are a number of things to consider:
- The heated liquid, or “juice”, found in e-cigarettes contains nicotine and many other hazardous chemicals including glycol (found in antifreeze), propylene glycol (a lung and eye irritant), metals and nitrosamines (cancer-causing agents). Despite many labels stating there is no nicotine in the product, a study showed there still may be nicotine in the product.
- E-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA and at this point, aren’t a proven method in quitting tobacco use.
- E-cigarettes have not been around long enough for anyone to know the long-term effects of the product on the lungs. The unknown health risks are a concern to the medical community.
- There has been an increase in calls to poison control centers from exposure to the nicotine juice in e-cigarettes. Even a small amount of exposure to this substance could lead to dizziness, headaches, blindness and even death.
- Health care providers have concerns that use of e-cigarettes could lead to increased smoking or dual use (smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes) due to how the brain is programmed for nicotine.
Fortunately, there has been an increase in education and awareness about the detrimental effects of tobacco use. It is known that approximately 70 percent of tobacco users want to quit, and there are programs, medications and products approved by the FDA that have known safety data and success rates for use in achieving that goal.
If you’re interested in cutting nicotine from your life, Affinity Health System is ready to support you with the Call It Quits program. Call It Quits offers free cessation education and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week via telephone. Please call NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 or check out the program online for more information. You can also take advantage of the Centers for Disease Control’s “Tips from Former Smokers,” available at www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/
Authors: Sandi Breu, RN, BSN and Angela D. Hoffman, RN