Step on a crack, you break your mother's back.
Step on an e-cigarette and it may burn you.
This morning on CTV News Channel, I discussed the dangers of e-cigarettes and it got me a flurry of "feedback," mostly from those who have quit smoking using them.
E-cigarettes are small, handheld devices that may or may not look cigarettes, but they are puffed and a vapour is exhaled. The vapour is created by a liquid that doesn't smell like cigarettes or create "smoke." In fact, you can get it in all kinds of candy flavours. In Canada, in theory, the liquid does not contain nicotine, but anyone with a computer, smart phone, or access to a cross border shopping trip knows that the liquid containing nicotine isn't hard to get. And it is way cheaper than cigarettes.
My concern is twofold:
These tools are being used as a stop smoking aid, but they could be delivering more nicotine than you bargained for, along with other unknown substances. Since they weren't designed to help you quit, they are unregulated, and therefore there is no way to know how much nicotine there is compared to what you may be currently using. Some liquids have been reported to contain formaldehyde and other toxic or carcinogenic substances.
These puffing sticks are perceived as cool, harmless, and fun by teens who have never smoked and may have no desire to. If they pick one up at a party, they could be inhaling nicotine and an addiction that they haven't bargained for.
Let me be clear: I am not against e-cigarettes; they may be a great tool! And, as a non-smoker, I am happy to sit next to any e-cig so I am not inhaling second-hand smoke. Are there any benefits? If they were regulated, there could be; it would then be a measurable way to reduce nicotine and have some assurance of purity.
What I do want is for parents to know these things exist and that they are another thing that their kids are playing with.
I'd also like to encourage every smoker out there to quit smoking however they can. It is the very first thing I say in my book
"...if you are still smoking, you have heard all you need to know to convince you to quit. Following the process of Ace Your Health will help you improve your health but if you smoke, you will always be playing catch up. There is nothing that you can do from a health perspective that will overcome the damage you are doing by smoking."
You deserve a tool that has some oversight for efficacy and safety. That doesn't mean don't use e-cigs; it means, don't use them blindly. Push for regulation so you KNOW you are moving in the right direction.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Mindfulness training helped participants in a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21723049" target="_hplink">2011 <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> study</a> to stay off cigarettes. That study included 88 people who smoked 20 cigarettes daily, on average, who were split up into two groups: One received four weeks of mindfulness training, while the other group went through four weeks of an <a href="http://www.ffsonline.org/" target="_hplink">American Lung Association stop-smoking program</a>. The researchers found that more of those who went through the mindfulness training smoked fewer cigarettes -- and stayed off them -- than those who went through the other stop-smoking program. The mindfulness training included <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201204/can-mindfulness-help-you-quit-smoking" target="_hplink">realizing when you're facing a craving</a>, accepting it, thinking about what's happening and then taking note of the sensation (whether it's tightness or pressure), <em>Psychology Today</em> reported.
Jogging and bicycling aren't the only exercises that could help you kick the smoking habit -- <em>Shape</em> magazine reported that <a href="http://www.shape.com/latest-news-trends/study-says-weight-lifting-can-help-smokers-quit-and-lose-weight" target="_hplink">weightlifting could help</a>, too. The research, published in the journal <em>Nicotine & Tobacco Research</em>, showed that doing two hour-long weightlifting sessions for 12 weeks <em>plus</em> undergoing treatment to quit smoking was linked with greater success in quitting smoking, compared with just undergoing the stop-smoking treatment.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">Eating lots of fruits and veggies</a> could help smokers maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle, according to research from the University of Buffalo. The study, published in the journal <em>Nicotine and Tobacco Research</em>, included 1,000 smokers ages 25 and older. The researchers had the participants answer surveys about their smoking habits and their fruit and vegetable intake. Then, they followed up with them 14 months later and asked them if they used tobacco over the past month. The researchers found that there was a relationship between the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">amount of fruits and vegetables</a> the study participants ate, and the likelihood that they quit -- and stayed off -- tobacco. In fact, people who ate the most produce in the study were three times more likely to report that they'd been tobacco free in the previous month. The researchers also found a link between increased produce consumption and taking longer in the day to have the first cigarette, smoking fewer cigarettes, and decreased dependence on nicotine (based on test results).
A review of studies suggests there is evidence that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/acupuncture-quit-smoking-hypnosis_n_1497348.html" target="_hplink">acupuncture and hypnosis</a> can work to help quit smoking, Reuters reported. Researchers, who published their findings in the <em>American Journal of Medicine</em>, said that other options -- like medications and counseling -- should be tried first, but that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/hypnosis-quit-smoking_n_1248444.html" target="_hplink">hypnosis</a> and acupuncture could help if those options don't work, or if people don't want to go on medications, according to Reuters.
Who knew your phone could be used to help you quit smoking? A recent study published in the <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60701-0/abstract" target="_hplink">journal <em>The Lancet</em></a> showed that smokers who enrolled in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/05/smoking-text-message_n_888188.html" target="_hplink">program called "txt2stop"</a> -- where they received encouraging text messages to quit smoking -- were twice as likely to kick the habit after six months, compared with smokers who didn't get any encouraging messages. In the study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one group was able to text words like "lapse" and "crave" to a phone number, and <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20075843-247/want-to-quit-smoking-try-text-message-support/" target="_hplink">received an encouraging text</a> message in return, CNET reported. The other group of people, however, only got one text message every two weeks, and that message just thanked them for being part of the study.
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