Smoking bans are increasing, with fourteen states enforcing designated “smoke free” restaurants and bars as well as workplaces, especially hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Other municipalities across the country implement smoking bans in certain areas, even if the smoker is outside. While smokers have fewer places to light up, they have more options to receive their nicotine fix.
E-cigarettes, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery systems, vaporize the juice of the nicotine for the user to inhale instead of breathing in smoke. While researchers need to study these devices more, there is a possibility that they are not only a healthier and cheaper alternative to cigarettes, but they might also help you kick the habit for good.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “in early 2010, the average retail price of a pack of cigarettes in the United States was approximately $4.80 (including federal, state and municipal excise taxes), but prices vary widely across states.” As of July 2010, one pack of Marlboro Reds in New York City costs smokers $11.90. The cheapest cigarettes available are in West Virginia, where you can purchase the same pack for $4.74.
Prices for e-cigarettes vary greatly, with each product offering benefits and special features different from its competitors. Green Smoke, the most popular brand of e-cigarettes available, will run you $129.99 for a starter kit if purchased from its distributor. Cirrus 3, a product of White Cloud, costs $289.95 per starter kit and Blu Cig, another popular e-cigarette product will run only $69.95 for a basic kit.
Negatives Concerns Regarding E-Cigs
Research shows that e-cigarettes do not deliver nicotine as quickly and effectively as traditional cigarettes and there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that e-cigarettes help a smoker to quit. E-cigarette manufacturers are quick to criticize such studies.
Many e-cigarette products are made in China where manufacturing standards are low. In the past, China had broken protocols and sent millions of toxic toys to our country, knowing that our manufacturers would let them in. China’s manufacturers did not care if the toys were harmful as long as they were making the money from them. People who oppose e-cigarettes believe that these products would be no different. Of course, when you compare the "unknown" of e-cigarettes to the very well known dangers of real smoking, the safety issue is a tough call.
The entire e-cigarette industry was unregulated for some time. Manufacturers made claims and statements to promote their products but had no proof or studies to back them up. In March 2010, the FDA banned importation of e-cigarette devices so that they could review the products for any health risks. They found that the units may distribute hazardous chemicals, such as diethyl glycol, to the smoker but not enough is known about its safety. The industry is currently in an FDA battle. It is not yet certain if the FDA will regulate e-cigarettes.
Because the industry is marketed heavily and every company is trying to take a piece of the pie, it is hard to tell fact from fiction. Television commercials boast that the smoker is only exhaling water vapor, but some studies say that is not the case. E-cigarette manufacturers do not have to prove their claims are true, nor do they need research to back it up because the industry is a free-for-all.
Positives of E-Cigs
On the other hand, e-cigarettes have been known to help many people quit smoking altogether. Even though some studies say e-cigarettes don't deliver nicotine any better than an unlit cigarette, you can't tell that to the people who have successfully quick tobacco using e-cigarettes. ABCLocal reports on an 81-year old woman who began smoking at the age of 13. After a pack-a-day habit that lasted 61 years, she was diagnosed with emphysema and turned to e-cigarettes. She slowly kicked the habit completely by decreasing her nicotine dosage over the course of several weeks.
E-cigarettes are cheaper than tobacco. While the e-cigarette starter packs can range in price from $60.00 to over $200.00, the long-term reward from quitting smoking completely is financial freedom. Either you can shell out a large chunk of money right away to (maybe) quit smoking in a few weeks, or you can continue to pay $5 to $9 a day for the duration of your smoking habit.
In December 2010, a new report concluded that, compared with all the chemicals that are in tobacco, e-cigarettes are the safer alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes carcinogen levels are up to 1,000 times lower than their tobacco counterparts. While the authors are careful to state that the study does not prove they are completely safe, they do point out that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes and have the same toxicity levels as the usual nicotine replacement products.
A thorough search through news reports covering e-cigarettes shows that no one has ever filed a claim of harm in the five years that e-cigarettes have been available in the United States. While any controversial product will have naysayers and supporters, as long as no one has reported any serious damage, those who favor e-cigarettes will continue to use them.
The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a non-profit organization, is devoted to making sure that there are alternatives to smoking available and informs the public about each product. They report on a clinical trial performed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University that concludes that even though e-cigarettes may only contain trace amounts of nicotine, or none at all, they are still reducing cravings.
Alternatives for Quitting
There are other alternatives for quitting smoking, but they are almost as expensive as smoking itself. Nicotine replacement therapy reduces withdrawal symptoms, allowing users to focus on the behavior and psychology behind why they smoke. Most products are available over-the-counter although some require a doctor’s prescription. Nicotine gum, a transdermal nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges, nicotine nasal spray and a nicotine inhaler are all available for smoking cessation purposes. If e-cigarettes really can help you quit, it's probably the cheapest way to go about it. The cost of a basic starter kit pays for roughly two boxes of nicotine replacement products.