E-Cigarettes, an Alternative to Smoking Tobacco

When thinking about quitting the habit, squashing out the last butt, and living a healthy lifestyle, e-cigarette smoking may be an alternative to quitting cold turkey, according to Gregory Conley, Legislative Director for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA).

“There is all existing evidence that e-cigarettes are 99 percent less hazardous than smoking plus or minus one percent,” Conley said.

As an example, one of the best studies on E-cigarettes was conducted by Dr. Maciej Goniewicz from The Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study tested the vapor produced by 12 different e-cigarettes and compared them to cigarette smoke as well as the FDA approved nicotine inhaler. The study found that there were nine to 460 times less toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapor versus smoke and for many of those levels they were comparable to what is in the nicotine inhaler.

Electronic cigarettes, or personal vaporizers, are alternatives to tobacco cigarettes, battery-operated devices that create inhalable, water-based mist instead of smoke.

“There has been plenty more done on e-cigarette vapor and looking at e-cigarette users…and all these studies indicate that all of these ex-smokers that switched to e-cigarettes are doing just as fine and are experiencing the same health benefits, the same health restoration benefits, as someone who quit smoking all together, quit nicotine and never looks back,” Conley said.

Conley said the ideal is for people kicking the smoking habit completely substitute smoking cigarettes with E-cigarettes, but he admits that there are a lot of people who use E-cigarettes to cut back on smoking.

He said there still are health benefits from someone who cuts back from a pack a day to five nicotine cigarettes a day with the help of E-cigarettes.

“As long as a person reduces the number of cigarettes a day this is a public health gain,” Conley said.

In point of fact, Conley stated that the Big Tobacco Corporations – Altria, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard – all reported significant drops in the sale of nicotine products in the past two years from three to five percent, attributing the fall to the sale of e-cigarettes.

“Just last year, the CDC reported for the first time in something like eight years that there was a significant drop in the smoking rate of the country,” Conley said.

However, it has not been an easy sell to convince federal and state regulators of the benefits of e-cigarettes.

Eight states have tried to ban them.

Minnesota taxes them as high as cigars, or 90 percent wholesale, keeping prices inflated far above the price of a pack of cigarettes.

“As a result a lot of the convenience store e-cigarettes that are most available actually cost more than a pack of cigarettes,” Conley said.

Other politicians have proposed similar taxes and regulations on e-cigarettes including New York State and the New York City Health Committee, but has not had the same impetus according to Conley.

From 2009 to 2010, many national health advocacy organizations including The American Lung Association, The American Cancer Association, The American Heart Association, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids attempted to convince the Federal Drug Administration to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to adults and minors as unapproved drug delivery devices.

“Ever since then, the groups have largely recognized that they [bans] are only passed to destroy the cigarette industry which is their goal,” Conley said. “As far as the e-cigarettes that really help smokers quit…overbearing FDA regulations would destroy those companies…or they would go back to operating in a grey or black market as they did in 2009 to 2010.”

CASAA is a national advocacy group for the E-cigarette and smokeless tobacco community.

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