Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Clearing the Air on Vaporizers

Clearing the Air on Vaporizers

Online Media Specialist

E-cigarettes and electronic vaporizers have somehow transformed from those weird sci-fi looking sticks Jenny McCarthy pushes, to a more normalized occurrence in day-to-day lives. If you haven't run into them, electronic vaporizers use a battery-powered heating device to create vapor for inhalation. An e-cigarette is a type of vaporizer that atomizes a liquid solution commonly made of propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. They've become popular among people who want to curb their smoking habit and can be used in places normal cigarettes cannot. Unfortunately since regulations haven't caught up to industry trends, claims from manufacturers, users, and oppositionists go largely unchecked.

It's not hard to draw a parallel between the rise of vaporizers in the 2000s and the rise of cigarettes in the 1900s. In the early 1900s it was fashionable and stylish to smoke cigarettes, but like e-cigarettes and other vaporizers, research about the health effects did not catch up with fad until decades later. Research for things that affect long-term health and for popular products routinely follow dramatically different timelines. This is one reason we look back at tobacco ads from the 1940s with a whole new perspective and think, "How could companies claim such crazy health benefits on a product full of chemicals?" But the audiences at the time were able to take ad text at face value because they did not know what we know now after decades of trials and testing.

I'd say we're over the hump of a vaporizers becoming popular and squarely into the questioning phase. It's sort of like we're in the late 1950s, early 1960s tobacco health phase wise. Think right before the 1964 landmark Surgeon General's report, the one that took more than a decade to compile. This particular report had 150 non-bias constituents examine 7,000 health articles, medical records, and test subjects to come to the conclusions stated in the final publication. This was one of the first major efforts on the part of a non-privately funded medical committee to establish some form of standard facts on the use of tobacco and tobacco products. It is an effort that the vaporizer industry has yet to receive.

Knowledge about e-cigarettes and vaporizers has changed so rapidly over the past two to three years that even statements from last year can be outdated. E-cig manufacturers aren't legally allowed to say they help a consumer quit smoking, but it is largely implied in ads and talked about in the community. Companies can't make that claim because it hasn't been proven (consumer testimonials are not the same as clinical studies where results can be replicated). They can't claim there are not secondhand vaping effects because, again, it hasn't been proven. It has been proven that e-cigs are not harmless and are even unhealthy for you. This is not in the manner we're used to, but in a whole new way caused by an under regulated manufacturing process and electronic delivery system. (Only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are currently regulated by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation.)

When a product is unregulated and the chemical combination in the liquid varies from product to product, it's hard to find a blanket statement befitting the health concerns of the industry. Beyond unknown chemicals, a major concern for the industry is that casual smokers will pick up vaping and do so more often than they would have normal cigarettes because of the lack of apparent negative effects.

It's easy to take a side on the issue, but currently next to impossible to find a clear trend line in research.  For now, maybe skip the vaporizers.

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