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Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, as they are popularly known, are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and other chemicals in vapor instead of smoke. E-cigarettes are produced to mimic the act of tobacco smoking minus the tobacco smoke and with fewer toxins. That is why e-cigarettes are viewed by many as less harmful alternatives to regular cigarettes. Contrary to popular belief, however, e-cigarettes are not a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes after all. This is according to several recently published studies including one from the University of California, Los Angeles, that tested the effect of e-cigarette vapors on cultured cells. Researchers found that the toxic nanoparticles in e-cigarette vapors killed 85% of the tested cells.

The recent findings of studies on e-cigarettes are even more alarming since the use of these devices has been increasing. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 22% of people aged 18 to 24 years old use e-cigs and around 4% of people aged 65 years old and above have tried them. Indeed, the “vaping” industry is growing, with reported revenue of more than $3.5 billion.

While many view e-cigs as healthier alternatives to regular cigarettes, e-cigs still contain chemicals including the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine can affect the heart and circulatory system, along with the gastrointestinal and nervous systems. And according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, e-cigs also contain carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde and potentially toxic metal nanoparticles. Other than the health risks e-cigarettes pose, the National Institute of Drug Abuse contends that e-cigarettes may serve as an entry point for tobacco use.

All of the above and the fact that e-cigarette use is becoming increasingly popular to high school students make e-cigarette smoking a serious issue. Something that we cannot continue to ignore any longer.

The good news is the Food and Drug Administration has recognized the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. The FDA is now requiring e-cigarette manufacturers to include health warning labels on e-cigarette packaging and advertisements, among other limitations. But the fight has just started!

The best we can do to supplement the actions taken by organizations, both public and private, in the fight against e-cigarettes is to prohibit the use of these devices in our households. This is tricky for most parents, however, since the vapor has taste and scent so it may be harder for them to find out whether their children are using them. According to Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, a physician/surgeon for Orlando Health, “The same vapor devices can also be used to smoke marijuana.”

Awareness and vigilance are very important factors in this fight against the growing vaping culture. And we have to act now before it’s too late.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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