Ever since electronic cigarettes first exploded onto the scene a few years ago, there has been much debate about whether or not they are any safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco products claim the lives of roughly 6 million people each year, so it’s not difficult to see why the search for a safer and viable alternative would draw so much attention and scrutiny by the health community and government regulators alike. Dr. Derek Yach, head of the Vitality Institute, recently issued a statement encouraging doctors to begin recommending e-cigarettes to patients who are looking to reduce or give up their dependence upon traditional tobacco products.
For the uninitiated, an e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats up a flavored nicotine liquid (often called “e-juice”) in order to produce a vapor, thus simulating the traditional smoking experience. Manufacturers who offer electronic cigarettes for sale promote the e-cigarette as an “alternative nicotine delivery system” that can aid smokers in making the transition away from tobacco cigarettes.
Dr. Yach, who held a previous position at the World Health Organization and was a member of a committee responsible for developing tobacco control guidelines, asserts that e-cigarettes are much safer than their conventional counterparts due to the absence of several harmful chemicals that are found in tobacco cigarettes. Yach remarked that e-cigarettes feature “clean nicotine”, and are ultimately a safer product overall in comparison to conventional cigarettes.
Yach also indicated that e-cigarettes should be subject to regulation and more thorough research for the sake of determining their true public health impact. In addition, Yach asserted that tobacco products should be subject to more control by way of advertising bans and increased taxes on sales. Yussuf Saloojee, executive director of the National Council Against Smoking, remarked that although e-cigarettes have the potential to decrease some of the negative effects caused by tobacco smoking, not enough is known about electronic cigarettes to determine their safety.
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