E-Cigarettes: Are they safe and effective?

Scientific studies showing that electronic cigarettes actually help people to stop smoking are few and far between. But that isn't stopping many smokers, as well as a few experts, from giving e-cigarettes the benefit of the doubt.

A new controversial opinion piece goes so far as to suggest that e-cigarettes could bring about the "demise" of traditional smokes, and save thousands of lives in the process. The only thing holding these smokeless devices back from much wider use is that people know they aren't regulated, and so some are less likely to use them, according to Dr. Nathan Cobb, assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that hold liquid solutions containing nicotine, and deliver the drug as a vapor, but don't contain tobacco or produce smoke. Studies have shown that the devices contain fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes.

Taking electronic smokes off this so-called black market by subjecting them to greater regulation would be taking a product that's already popular with those trying to stop smoking and making it safer, Cobb said. This might be easier than trying to make the NRTs that have already been proven to be safe more popular, Cobb suggested.

Nicotine replacement works — it doubles quit rates. But it has terrible reach. The number of smokers in the country who actually use it is poor.

E-cigarettes could play a part in reducing smoking rates in the Ireland. Because of their popularity, electronic cigarettes have the potential to help three times as many people quit smoking as conventional NRTs.

At the moment we need more comprehensive research to be conducted in order for medical professionals to move ahead with public health policies that position e-cigarettes as cessation aids for smokers. In the meantime, it's simply too early to tell whether or not e-cigarettes are really effective at getting people to stop smoking, according to Dr. Michael Steinberg, director of the tobacco dependence program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey.

If you want to give up smoking and would like advice on various nicotine replacement products contact Garvan at Lynch’s Pharmacy in Douglas on 4366923 or talk to your G.P.

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