Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things to do. The withdrawal symptoms are pretty brutal, even when you use nicotine patches.
A couple months after Dixon tried quitting, Carson saw him with an electronic cigarette.
These things seem to be popping up everywhere. Katherine Heigl famously shared her e-cigarette with David Letterman during an appearance on his late night show. Dixon told Carson it was much safer than smoking a conventional cigarette, but nevertheless, scientists have been voicing their concerns.
Carson wanted to get to the bottom of this debate, so Dr. Stan Glantz of the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Prevention at the University of California San Francisco shed some light on the subject.
First things first…what is an electronic cigarette? In a nutshell, it’s a a battery-operated device that contains a vile of fluid filled with nicotine and other chemicals in it. When you suck on the e-cigarette, it turns on a heater which vaporizes the nicotine solution, which is what you breathe in and out.
“It is better than a cigarette, but that’s sort of like saying it’s better not to jump out a 50th story of a building,” Dr. Glantz explained to Carson Wednesday morning. “A cigarette is a hugely, hugely polluting and highly toxic product.”
One of the big arguments against this new smoking device is that there’s not a whole lot of research on the long-term effects.
“There’s a lot of claims being made for them, like that they’re helpful for smoking cessation, that haven’t really been scientifically-tested.”
Heigl and other e-cigarette proponents have argued that one of the main benefits is that they’re only breathing in nicotine and breathing out water vapors, but Glantz says this simply isn’t true.
“They have a lot of other chemicals in them, not as much as a conventional cigarette, but there are heavy metals in them. There are carcinogens in them,” he said. “You don’t just exhale water vapor, which is another claim.”
“They’re less polluting than second-hand smoke, but you know, right now we’ve gotten rid of second-hand smoke in most indoor environments.”
Dr. Glantz believes allowing electronic cigarettes indoors would be a huge mistake.
“One of the things that helps smokers quit is the fact that you can’t smoke in most places, like restaurants. If restaurants begin to allow e-cigarette use, you could get into a situation where people are smoking conventional cigarettes outside and e-cigarettes inside rather than quitting.”
Using both at the same time is what Glantz refers to as dual use. It’s quite possible that some people may be successful cutting down on smoking with the aid of the e-cigarette, but he fears it’s more likely that it will be used as a gateway to get back into conventional cigarettes.
At the end of the day, Glantz says e-cigarettes are better than conventional ones, but he stresses that there needs to be more research and regulation.
“If the e-cigarette claims turn out to be scientifically-documented, which they may, then I think let them be sold in a regulated way. There should be no sales to kids because they are delivering and addictive drug. They should not be allowed to be used indoors.”
- Have you used an electronic cigarette to help you quit smoking? Did it work? Share with us your story in the comments section!
-Sarah Carroll, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles