Some of us smokers received, over the holidays, the well-intended gift of e-cigarettes to save us from the deadly carcinogens of real cigarettes. But not so fast; this supposedly ingenious solution to the most addictive substance ever known to man may actually give us more problems than its promised cure.
Electronically-fired cigarettes look, taste and sometimes smell like real cigarettes but do not have the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals, it is believed. What makes them even better is that they don’t release residual or second-hand smoke that can be inhaled by others (second hand-smoke is believed to be more toxic than the actual smoke).
Staunch anti-smoking advocate groups in the country— New Vois Association of the Phils. Inc. and the Philippine Laryngectomee Club Inc.—say e-cigarettes are a probable solution in their fight against cancer and tobacco addiction.
Association president and larynx cancer survivor Emer Rojas says that “based on initial market response, it is the most effective smoking cessation tool developed…compared to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other methods,”
E-cigarettes may be regarded as one of the most promising smoking cessation tools in the world. Aside from containing less harmful chemicals, they effectively curb the use of cigarettes.
The world wide web has enough entries on the history of e-cigarettes. The registered e-juice or the liquid cartridge containing the tobacco alternative being exported out of China, for instance, is supposed to contain: propylene glycol, an oil based medium that dissolves nicotine, glycerol, tobacco essence, organic acid, an anti-oxidant of sort, butyl valerate, isopentyl hexonate, lauryl laurate, benzyl benzoate, methyl octynicate, ethyl heptylate, hexyl hexanoate, geranyl butyrate, menthol, citric acid, water, alcohol, trimethylpyrazine, tetramethypyrazine, dimethylpyrazine, acetypyrazine, terpineol, ethyl maltol, guaiacol, acetylypyridine and octalactone.
Combinations and derivatives of these compounds are supposed to give different flavors to the e-cigarette cartridges life the traditional regular tobacco flavor and menthol to imitate actual cigarette brands like Marlboro or other menthol brands as well as other flavors like mocha, vanilla, caramel, chocolate and coffee.
Cartridges also come in varying nicotine concentrations. Users have the choice from zero nicotine; low which is supposed to have nicotine at around 6 to 8 mg/ml; and medium at 10 to 14 mg/ml; to high and extra strength having 16 to 35 mg/ml doses.
But not everybody is enthusiastic about e-cigarettes. Rojas says that those opposing them are players in the tobacco industry themselves. It makes perfect sense.
Other contention against the e-cigarette, Rojas says, is that they are easily bought by minors and are used in areas where “No Smoking” signs are present.
“Yes there are many ‘underground’ importers trying to test the market. Most are coming from China but some are manufactured in the USA. Some may contain certain levels of nicotine just like nicotine patches… which aims to reduce the nicotine craving,” Rojas adds.
But from the land where regulation on counterfeits is next to nothing, cheaper substitutes in the molecular cocktail of the e-cigarette as well as quality consistency can’t be as far fetched. And probability is high that nicotine is the least of the users’ problem.
At this point, no one really knows.
In the Philippines, e-cigarettes have been in the local market for years and have made a craze among Makati’s chic young urban professionals. The prohibitive price added a touch of exclusivity. In the past year, though, several generic models from China have surfaced in bazaars and tiangge all over the country at affordable prices. Now it can be had for as low as P500.
This is not bad at all, of course, although like everything else that doesn’t come with any indications and is to be ingested; e-cigarettes deserve a second look.
Science has proven the menace of tobacco addiction and the myriad of medical conditions that follow its wake. True, but only few really know what goes in these hi-tech, smokeless, electronic contraptions, much less the health complications that can possibly arise from their use.
What is astounding is that e-cigarettes are being sold in the open for some time now and yet our government remains clueless about what it really is.
To no surprise, e-cigarettes sold in the Philippines do not come with a warning label or a list of cigarettes ingredients. The Food and Drugs Administration, too, has yet to issue an approval.
By Rey T. Salita