To vape or not to vape?

By John McElligott, MD

The company I drive for doesn’t want us smoking in the truck, so I am trying to wean myself off cigarettes. I know you are very vocal about the harmful effects of cigarettes. What do you think about e-cigs?

Good for you regarding your effort to stop smoking. I am no expert on e-cigarettes. Having said that, I do not recommend them and here’s why. 

I feel it’s very important that we start looking at the product. Because I am not an authority on it, I went to some friends who are. I want to share a worthy comment from Richard Hunt, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center.

“It’s an amazing thing to watch a new product like that just kind of appear. There’s no quality control,” says Hunt. “Many of them are manufactured in China under no controlled conditions, so the story is yet to be completely told.”

I do support the regulation of e-cigarettes, so I was also interested in the opinion of the American Association for Cancer Research. The AARC is one of many who are pushing for the regulation of e-cigarettes and to prohibit the sale of them to children and teens.

“It is imperative that the FDA regulates all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars, and prohibit the sale and marketing of these products to children,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D., chief executive officer of the AACR. “In the absence of such regulation, consumers are at risk, most significantly our nation’s children. Therefore, the proposed rule is an important step forward in expanding the FDA’s regulation of tobacco and protecting the health of the American people.”

I agree with what they are saying at the Mayo Clinic and the American Association for Cancer Research.

“As of right now, there is no long-term safety data showing the impact of repeated inhalation of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin on lung tissue,” cautions Jon Ebbert, M.D., associate director at the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center. “There is some short-term data suggesting that e-cigarettes may cause airway irritation, but until we have long-term safety data, we are not recommending e-cigarettes for use among cigarette smokers to help people stop smoking.” LL