When I was in high school, I distinctly remember one person in my class smoking an electronic cigarette by our lockers. I was confused, having never seen one prior, but he assured us all that it was “healthier” and that it was making him quit smoking. I then saw him later that year chain smoking Parliaments outside the dining hall, so I’m assuming that the little vapor stick didn’t work as well as it was supposed to. Nevertheless, I have since heard numerous people tout it as being an effective way to help smokers quit their addiction to cigarettes.
As it turns out, this is an unproven hypothesis with no researched evidence to back it up. A study by the Italian Health Ministry released today says that there’s no scientific proof to show that e-cigarettes are useful in helping people stop smoking, nor should young people use them because they are still delivering nicotine into the bloodstream. Plus, the study notes concern that those who use electronic cigarettes may actually wind up “graduating” into smoking real ones.
According to ABC News, an electronic cigarette is “basically an electronic inhaler… that vaporizes liquid. Some of the aroma solutions contain nicotine indifferent concentrations. It produces a smoke-like vapor that simulates the act of tobacco smoking and when inhaled delivers the nicotine, if used in the liquid-base, into the bloodstream via the lungs.”
Since it’s technically smoke-free, it’s often seen as “safer.” But Roberta Pacifici, director of Italy Observatory on Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Use at the National Health Institute, says that while they can “say that the electronic cigarette is less toxic… we cannot say that it is totally innocuous.” It is best to stay away, and especially to keep young people from trying them and finding themselves addicted to nicotine.
As I have mentioned before, I used to be a frequent smoker. One commenter on that article even recommended that if I found myself occasionally wanting a cigarette, I should try an e-cigarette, but as she also said, “It is almost as good as the real deal.. almost.” And therein lies the problem for most people who are used to actual cigarettes — e-cigarettes simply don’t have the same taste or feeling or nostalgia that many smokers connect with the typical ones. Unfortunately, all of those things (in addition to the chemical addiction) wind up contributing to why smokers have such a hard time quitting.
In my opinion, it’s best to just acknowledge that you really enjoy the actual act of smoking a cigarette, but then further recognize that the cons infinitely outweigh those perceived benefits, so there’s no use in trying to find a substitute for many of us — simply quitting 100% is the only answer. Not electronic cigarettes, not hookah, not cigars; just stopping the act of taking in nicotine and/or smoke. Obviously, this is simply my own opinion based on the habits of myself and others I know (so take it with a grain of salt), but I can say that I won’t be putting my faith in e-cigarettes or any other alternatives anytime soon.