Considering electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid is part and parcel of society’s attempts to quell a health menace. The health risks associated with smoking is indisputable. It is the leading cause of 20% of all deaths in the US every year, and the government has done its best to make it more difficult to continue the habit by imposing no smoking laws and increasing taxes for tobacco products to prohibitive heights. The attendant health risks are so extensive that to continue smoking is an exercise in insanity.
But smoking cessation is easier said than done. The addictive effects of nicotine in cigarettes make it difficult to easily stop smoking. Nicotine is an alkaloid that is present in tobacco to as much as 3%, with a yield of 1 mg per cigarette. It is a stimulant that has addictive effects, and some tobacco companies have actually increased the nicotine content in their products. Nicotine can be fatal if taken in large doses, from 30 to 60 mg depending on the smoker’s tolerance, which is approximately 30 cigarettes in one sitting.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation allows the smoker to get the buzz it wants from cigarettes by direct dosing of nicotine. These take the form of patches, gums, and pastilles and are considered good aids to smoking cessation although there are some who claim that nicotine is just as bad in its on its own as it is in cigarettes. Considering the alternative (continued smoking) it’s a risk most smokers desperate to quit are willing to take.
A more recent addition to the NRT family is electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid aims to address two issues that most habitual smokers have: nicotine addiction and an oral fixation. Most smokers light up when they are nervous, bored or stressed, and find that having something in their mouth is soothing. That is why electronic cigarettes are designed to simulate cigarettes as closely as possible. It is actually a battery-powered vaporizer which atomizes a liquid with a quantity of nicotine to simulate smoke being inhaled and exhaled.
The advantages of using an electronic cigarette as compared to other NRT alternatives is that the smoker can gradually decrease the amount of nicotine in the system by simply tuning down the nicotine content in the cartridges. Each cartridge contains the equivalent of 40 cigarettes. For those dedicated to quit smoking, they choose cartridges which contain no nicotine at all, but they are apt to experience withdrawal symptoms which can lead to a relapse, similar to going cold turkey. The liquid in these cartridges are called e-juice or e-liquid, and combines a glycol- or glyceryn-based solution (normally used as food additives to such products as toothpaste and asthma inhalers) mixed with a flavoring agent such as menthol, cola, vanilla, or chocolate, plus an optional dose of nicotine. It is recommended that the smoker gradually decrease the nicotine content until the body adjusts to the altered content until nicotine is no longer necessary.