Dual use of ecigarettes and cigarettes

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The World

Dual Use Update…

The New Tobacco War

They may be safer, but could e-cigs renormalize smoking?

The debate raging over electronic cigarettes largely comes down to the fate of people like Dylan Johnson, a 21-year-old from LaPine who started smoking when he was 14.

“I was pretty young,” he admits.

Dylan Johnson, 21, exhales vapor from his e-cigarette while sitting on the front porch of his home last month. Ryan Brennecke / The Bulletin

After seven years of smoking — all but three below the legal age to buy tobacco cigarettes — he had developed a pack-and-a-half-per-day habit.

Living in a house where most of his family smokes, without some sort of assistance Johnson might never be able to quit smoking. Only half of smokers do. He faced a lifelong risk of disease and disability, and could expect to cut 10 years off his life expectancy if he smoked past the age of 35.

But in January, Johnson decided on his own he needed to make a change and began to wean himself off smoking using e-cigarettes.

Almost immediately, he was able to cut his cigarette use, stretching each pack of 20 cigarettes to last a full day, then two. He experimented with preloaded, disposable e-cigarettes, but they didn’t work well for him. He soon switched to using an atomizer with a refillable tank system, often called vaping. By September, he was down to just five cigarettes a day.

“I smoke about the same number of times each day but more towards the vaping side,” he said. “I don’t cough up any black tar or anything.”

He’s been ratcheting down the nicotine levels in his e-cigarettes as well, from a potent 24 mg/ml when he started vaping, down to about 6 mg/ml by September.

His ultimate goal is to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes, but he has no immediate plans to stop using e-cigarettes.

“I think I’ll still be vaping regularly but I want to be at a much lower level (of nicotine) than what I started,” he said.
Cases like his leave public health officials with a conundrum.

On the one hand, e-cigarettes could significantly reduce the harm for smokers, taking away the tar and other carcinogens that cause myriad health problems, saving millions of lives and billions in health care costs.

On the other hand, e-cigarettes carry the risk of addicting a new generation of nicotine users and potentially undoing much of what health officials have accomplished in stigmatizing smoking.

After eight years on the U.S. market, there is widespread agreement by both proponents and critics of e-cigarettes that regulation is needed.

But how that regulation is put into place could ultimately determine whether these products become the best chance of moving to a tobacco-free society or whether the progress of five decades of tobacco control efforts will go up in smoke.

No standards, little data

E-cigarettes exploded onto the U.S. market in 2006. By 2014, there were 2.5 million e-cigarettes users nationwide.

While initial products looked much like traditional cigarettes, a long cylindrical tube with a glowing tip, over the past year in particular the market has moved toward refillable tank systems that bear little resemblance to tobacco cigarettes.

While there are multiple different designs, most use the same basic concept: a battery-powered heating element that heats a nicotine-containing liquid until it turns into a vapor to be inhaled just like cigarette smoke.

 

Originally written By:Markian Hawryluk

The Bulletin @markianhawryluk

 

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