Monday, July 7, 2014

Up in Vape

Recently, on a beautiful day in Seaside Heights, I sat on a boardwalk bench waiting for my son and his friends and doing some people watching.  As I observed the variety of swimsuits, sundresses, piercings and tattoos adorning the bodies of early summer beach goers, (including a teen wearing a horse head mask,) activity at one particular store caught my eye.  It was a smoke shop selling e-cigs and other smoking paraphernalia.  What struck me was the number of young people, mostly in groups, stopping to purchase and browse.  The attraction of teens and young people to smoking is nothing new, of course, and as I age the range of people I consider to be “young” increases.  It is a fact, however, that there is still so much unknown about the effect of e-cigarettes and vaping on health.  E-cigs even eliminate the fear of “getting caught” because there is no smoke involved.  High school kids will vape in school, even in class.  Opportunities to “smoke” continue to grow, regardless of our lack of understanding of the long term consequences.  For adults who currently smoke and are considering quitting, e-cigs may be a viable “lower risk” alternative.   However, despite claims that e-cigs are safer than regular cigarettes and can help people quit there is little research yet to support this.  And more and more products are being developed all the time that stress lifestyle benefits over health benefits.  RJ Reynolds aims to make e-products that deliver a “satisfying” experience to smokers.  Philip Morris is developing a product that uses tobacco to deliver a tobacco flavor nicotine vapor claiming “reduced” risk.  There was a time when “light” cigarettes were marketed as such until it was found that these claims were untrue or murky at best.  And, if you are old enough to remember, there was a time when doctors were used to advertise the health benefits of cigarettes.  These new products contribute to the illusion that starting this kind of a habit is not at all harmful when this is far from true.  Smoking flavored tobacco using a hookah is also very much in vogue.  In the past year there has been a 21% increase in high school students who do this.  This is another practice where there is a huge misconception that it is safer than traditional cigarettes, just like it was once assumed that chewing tobacco was safer.  Finally, let’s look at the players in this industry.  These products are largely unregulated and there is a lot of money to be made.  E-cigarettes and vapor delivery systems have gained a lot of popularity with the public for a variety of reasons including the legalization of pot for medicinal and non-medicinal use in some states.  But don’t think for one minute that these companies are concerned about anything other than how to relieve you of your money.  They have a long history of just blowing smoke.

This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any dental or medical condition or illness.  Please visit your medical or dental health professional if you need medical or dental treatment.


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