Electronic cigarettes: boom, but how safe are they?

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Electronic cigarettes as an alternative to the normal cigarette: more and more smokers are approaching them, in an attempt to limit the damage related to nicotine intake. Is it really safe to use electronic cigarettes in the hope of limiting the risks to your health or to be able to quit smoking altogether?



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Electronic cigarettes as an alternative to normal cigarettes: more and more smokers are approaching them, in an attempt to limit the damage associated with the intake of nicotine. Using electronic cigarettes, in the hope of limiting the risks to your health or being able to give up smoking altogether, is it really safe?

In the opinion of the European Respiratory Society, there would not be enough studies available today to prove the real effectiveness of electronic cigarettes and that they can authorize you to recommend the use of them for the purpose of smoking cessation.

The e-cigarettes themselves would not be considered completely free of health risks, if at the moment one import firm of refills for the same is found under investigation following the intervention of the NAS, which ordered the seizure of about fifty packs of refills for electronic cigarettes intended for sale in newsstands. They did not carry le on the packaging claims relating to the health risks of smokers.

The same Higher Institute of Health had spoken a few weeks ago remembering such as electronic cigarettes are not without health risks, and are to be considered as real medicines which, as we know, in addition to curative effects can have side effects.

According to the National Institute of Health, (ISS) electronic cigarettes would present the only advantage of reducing secondhand smoke, as they emit steam, but do not function by combustion. Furthermore, in the opinion of the ISS, they could represent a risk of initiation to conventional smoking based on tobacco and potential addiction. A risk considered to be significant especially for young people, given the easy availability of electronic cigarettes via the internet.


Addressing the Ministry of Health, the ISS recalled that there is currently no scientific evidence sufficient to establish the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes as a method for quitting; to oarere of the ISS, they they should be regulated as medical devices or pharmaceutical products and not such as tobacco products. E-cigarettes, the ISS has stressed, should be treated as drugs and subjected to related controls. This will happen soon in the United States, while in France electronic cigarettes have already been approved for therapeutic use.

In others Countries of the world electronic cigarettes are though prohibited: Norway, Brazil, Turkey, China, Canada, Uruguay and Thailand have banned their use, although in China they continue to be produced for export. According to data communicated by the ISS, smoking electronic cigarettes, from 5 to 20 uses per day, would lead to exceed acceptable nicotine intake limits by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, and set for 0,0008 mg per kg of body weight.

Un additional health risk had been indicated on the occasion of the conference of the European Respiratory Society held last September in Vienna, where it was highlighted how after 10 minutes of puffs from the hi-tech cigarette airway resistance to air can be measured, the so-called bronchoconstriction, which ranges from 182 to 206%. Other studies have not But highlighted damage for the heart or lungs linked to electronic cigarettes, while the University of Catania has positively evaluated the use of electronic cigarettes, which could help heavy smokers cut back considerably the number of cigarettes smoke or abandon them altogether.


Given the numerous uncertainties at the moment, we feel like recommend caution regarding the use of electronic cigarettes, pending irrefutable scientific evidence. E-cigarettes, invented in 2003, have probably really helped some smokers to give up common cigarettes, while others, in the meantime, will have quit smoking simply because of their willpower or to others techniques deemed harmless (hypnosis, autogenic training, psychological support, reading of special books, etc.). Quitting smoking can only be good for your health. Everyone chooses, if he wishes, the method that he deems most suitable for himself.

Marta Albè

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