Electronic cigarettes not a proven stop smoking program
Beacon Staff Reporter
Electronic cigarettes are a gimmicky, unproven method to quit smoking and may harm your lungs, says the Canadian Lung Association at the beginning of National Non-Smoking Week.
The lung association recommends scientifically proven methods and says smokers should avoid electronic cigarettes, which may introduce toxic chemicals into the lungs.
“Don’t be fooled by e-cigarettes. These electronic devices could be potentially harmful to lung health and are not an approved quit smoking aid by either Health Canada or the U.S. Federal Drug Administration,” says Margaret Bernhardt-Lowdon, a tobacco issues spokesperson for the Canadian Lung Association.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that are designed to look like and to be used in the same manner as regular cigarettes.
These devices contain cartridges that may be filled with nicotine, flavouring and other chemicals. Electronic cigarettes electronically vaporize a solution creating a mist that is breathed into the lungs.
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Although not approved by Health Canada, they are readily available to purchase in Canadian retail outlets and from the internet. In 2009, Health Canada issued an advisory warning Canadians to not use electronic cigarettes.
“People who use e-cigarettes inhale unknown, unregulated and potentially harmful substances into their lungs,” said Dr. Theo Moraes, a medical spokesperson for the Canadian Lung Association and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “There are many nicotine replacement therapies approved by Health Canada to help someone quit smoking; the e-cigarette is not one of them.”
Electronic cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans including carcinogens and diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.
In initial lab tests, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found detectable levels of carcinogens and toxic chemicals in two leading brands of electronic cigarettes and 18 various cartridges.
The Canadian Lung Association is greatly concerned that electronic cigarettes with candy-like flavours, such as chocolate and vanilla, are being marketed and sold to youth.
“We are afraid that e-cigarettes, if not regulated, may lead more young people to start smoking,” said Dr. Moraes, who is also a staff respirologist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
“These products have candy-like flavours, which appeal to children and teenagers and can be bought by those under the age of 18. We are also concerned that electronic cigarettes may lead kids to try other tobacco products.”
There are many proven ways to quit smoking, such as individual or group counseling, stop-smoking medication and nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patch, lozenges, inhalers).
“Many people think they can quit on their own, but getting counseling can greatly increase your likelihood of quitting and staying quit,” said Bernhardt-Lowdon.
Established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, National Non-Smoking Week is one of the longest running events in Canada’s ongoing public health education efforts.