Christina A. Szot, MD, Pulmonary Medicine Associates
Cigarette smoking causes over 400,000 deaths in the US annually, mostly secondary to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Fortunately, today there are a number of effective therapies to help people quit smoking. An increasingly popular method is the use of electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes”. Electronic cigarettes use a heating element that vaporizes liquid nicotine; e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and do not produce smoke.
They are designed to look and feel like smoking a traditional cigarette. Nicotine replacement helps reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as irritability, anxiety, restlessness and depression. It is these withdrawal symptoms which frequently cause a person to resume smoking.
E-cigarettes can reduce the desire to smoke, however there are various types of e-cigarettes available on the market with variable amounts of nicotine. Despite their popularity, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved the use of e-cigarettes. There are few clinical trials that have to looked at potential harmful effects such as chance of addiction or long-term effectiveness.
A pilot study reported common adverse effects of e-cigarettes of dry cough and throat irritation. A 2009 FDA report found traces of the harmful solvent diethylene glycol in some e-cigarettes. Further studies are needed to learn the long-term risks and benefits of their use.
If you are thinking of quitting smoking and would like help visit www.renown.org/SmokeFree for more information.