E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular tool to help smokers to stop, but health officials warn there is no evidence that they are safe.
Sheila Brewers smoked 48 years, making it extremely difficult habit to break.
“I tried so many times. I’ve even done in three months, and I never stopped wanting a cigarette,” said Brewers.
That was until she tried the electronic cigarettes. Brewers have started using electronic cigarettes two years ago and have been smoking ever since.
“I feel much better,” said Brewers, Montgomery, Minn.” I can breathe much better. Everything is much better. ”
Brewers take her enthusiasm for electronic cigarettes, which vaporizes the liquid through a small battery-operated heating element and inhale the smoker, then. Liquid solutions come in a wide variety of flavors and nicotine concentrations. Some solutions are nicotine, which are slightly stronger than standard cigarettes, while others have no nicotine at all. It looks and feels like you’re smoking, but you do not.
For this reason, some retailers are promoting e-cigarettes as an effective (and even cool) tool for smoking cessation. Health and regulatory agencies have warned that there were no independent studies of the safety devices. Chinese pharmacist developed a patent for electronic cigarette technology in 2003. Four years later, they came here and have been growing in popularity ever since. Percent of U.S. adults who have tried the electronic cigarette more than four times a year, with six-tenths of 1 percent in 2009 to 2.7 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Minnesota-based e-cigarette retail Jesse Griffith, who owns smokeless tobacco, said he has seen similar growth at the local level. “We’ve been tracking sales of 500 bottles of refill [in December], and we went up to 600 in January,” he said. Last year, the store expanded Griffith from its original location in Burnsville Center Mall Maplewood and Rosedale.
According to Griffiths, each client responds differently to electronic cigarettes, especially if they use them to quit smoking. As brewers, Steve Lyzenga of Rosemount went smokeless tobacco to quit regular cigarettes. “I’m gone, like smoke and nicotine-free”, Lyzenga wrote by e-mail. “I’m probably four or so months of using deep-zero nicotine loads in the pomegranate flavor, so it was purely just going through the motions of smoking at the time.”
But it did not stick. Lyzenga started smoking again, but plans to return to e-cigarettes in the near future.
Griffith talks about their clients’ smoking habits and preferences. He then tries to install them with a package that has the taste and nicotine is similar to conventional cigarettes they smoke.
“Generally, if they pack a day, full of flavor, and then we are going to install them so that will probably cost them a little shy of $ 100,” said Griffith. “This will be the equipment, and it will cost you about a month refills for them.” Griffith believes that the average cost of electronic cigarette smokers, 20 percent of what they spend on regular cigarettes.
As the electronic cigarette sales are growing, so much attention from the medical community. There is almost no independent research in the field of electronic cigarettes, which leaves many questions unanswered.
“Whether it be brought to market as a way of introducing children and young people to nicotine addiction? Is it the nicotine dependence of the device?
We do not know,” said Dr. Thomas Kottke, a cardiologist at HealthPartners.
Griffith is trying to avoid the sale of non-smokers, seeking instead to give regular smokers a healthier alternative. “We believe that we have some kind of social responsibility, not to get people addicted to nicotine,” said Griffith. “We want to have the better of two evils, no worse of two evils.”
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried to step in. U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, however, ruled those electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products containing drugs if they are not sold specifically for use for therapeutic purposes, except for the FDA to intervene.
For Kottke, more studies will provide data as to whether e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to cigarettes. “Before you say that it is an effective tool … to help people quit smoking, we really need proof,” said Kottke.
As Kottke, as the electronic cigarette is inhaled, it is the best way to deliver nicotine than a device that enters the bloodstream. “It gives you a hit. This is how you snorting drugs. It inhalation drug … and it’s always been a problem with things like nicotine patches and chewing gum,” he said, adding that it is unclear whether e-cigarettes to keep smokers of cigarettes or allow smoking.
Many experts wonder if the electronic cigarette technology and liquid solutions of nicotine are safe, anxiety intensified recently when a man in Florida was seriously injured after smoking electronic devices has exploded in the mouth.
Griffith, in favor of more research and quality control measures to help determine what the safest and most high quality products.
Peter Funk is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment Star Tribune.