Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, first being offered as an alternative to smoking, a way for smokers to kick their habits. They provide nicotine and flavoring but not tar and other harmful chemicals.
An electronic cigarette uses a small battery to heat a canister of synthetic nicotine with or without other flavorings. Propylene glycol is also heated to make a puff of vapor that is inhaled along with the nicotine. So the smoker feels like they have had a puff off a cigarette.
Now, young people are picking up the habit of using e-cigarettes. As more teens start using these devices, they are coming under more scrutiny. Despite claims by manufacturers of their safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clamped down on imports, following Canada’s example of not allowing importation of the devices. An outright ban has not yet been enacted by the FDA.
After an initial surge of popularity, some recent reports seem capable of taking the shine off this novel new toy. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that e-cigarettes serve as “gateway drugs,” just as tobacco, alcohol and marijuana do. Studies indicate that use of nicotine can prepare smokers to graduate on to the use of harsher, more addictive drugs like cocaine. Continue reading