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May 08, 2017 OHIOHEALTH
E-Cigarettes: Separate Fact From Fiction

Thanks to medical and scientific research, countless studies have been able to show that cigarette smoking can cause serious long-term, and potentially deadly, damage to smoker’s long-term health. Groups like the Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society have proven that the dangers of smoking include a higher likelihood of developing diseases such as lung cancer, COPD, and even heart disease.

Frequent cigarette smoking can negatively impact the health of loved ones as well, due to the severe effects of secondhand smoke. Because of these and other dangers, many smokers have turned to e-cigarettes to lessen the negative impact on their health and in many cases, to help quit smoking altogether. Kelly Andrews, OhioHealth Marion General Hospital Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator, says that although giving up smoking is a good thing, taking up e-cigarettes is an unproven, expensive and potentially dangerous way to drop the habit.

You Might Just Stay Addicted

“It’s advertised as less dangerous and safe but the Food and Drug Administration is finding that tobacco companies who sell non-nicotine e-cigarettes indeed contain nicotine,” says Andrews. “Just like regular cigarettes, any product that contains nicotine has the potential to be addictive.”

E-cigarettes are indeed branded as having less nicotine but Andrews says many of these products actually contain unreliable levels of the addictive chemical. In fact, Andrews has seen people make their addictions worse by adding e-cigarettes to the equation.

“A patient was dead-set on using e-cigarettes to quit smoking but ended up smoking more cigarettes instead,” says Andrews.

Cancer Concerns

In addition to having potentially addictive chemicals, some e-cigarettes have chemicals that have previously been linked to cancer. Although e-cigarettes are not generally regarded as an effective or healthy method to kick a smoking habit, smokers still have options that Andrews believes are more reliable and better for them in the long run.

“Clinical evidence says that using nicotine replacement with professional counseling is an effective method for people looking to quit,” says Andrews. These replacement options include nicotine patches of which Andrews recommends one patch per pack of cigarettes smoked, or smoking cessation medications such as Chantix or Wellbutrin, which lessen the desire for chemical releases to your brain provided through cigarette use. In short, these options will decrease the need for the buzz that smokers get through cigarettes.

Benefits of Quitting

There are many reasons for smokers to quit, especially when considering the quick health benefits which include heart rate normalizing within 20 minutes of quitting and carbon monoxide levels dropping in the body within 12 hours, according to Andrews. Long-term benefits can continue for more than 10 years after smoking cessation. Andrews’ advice is to quit but to use a safe effective method while bypassing e-cigarettes.

“Studies have shown it’s just not an effective method to quit. It’s not evidence based.”

To join a six-week OhioHealth smoking cessation class taught by certified tobacco treatment specialists, visit our website. Find updated classes quarterly under the health and wellness section. You can also call 1-800-752-9119 to request additional information.

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