More and more smokers are turning to e-cigarettes. To endanger health hazards and regulation industry, medical professionals and policy makers.
Last week, a 31-year-old man from New York probably got the horror of his life. When he was talking to a colleague, he suddenly had a bang right on his body: the e-cigarette exploded in his pocket. The salesman had to be taken to a hospital and burnt to the leg and hand. As the US television station CNN reported, the e-cigarette device was a special product with high battery power. Of course this misfortune has nothing to do with the harmfulness of a commercial e-cigarette and it will not increase the discussion about the health risk.
But for the manufacturers and lobbyists of this comparatively novel smoke product such news is an abomination: from their point of view, the e-cigarette is perceived in the public in the majority only negative "A survey has shown that 36 percent of Irish consider the e-cigarette to be just as harmful as a tobacco cigarette or even even more harmful," The uppermost lobbyist of the vaper's, on the other hand, argues that studies of British scientists, for example, have a healthier effect than smoking a nicotine-containing fluid. However, the image of the e-cigarettes does not seem to be so bad at the Irish, otherwise the sales success would not be justified. This year, Irish customers will spend at least € 40 million on smoke devices and their fluids The previous year by a high 50 percent.
Behind it are 3.5 million users of this type of cigarette, a year before it was three million. Most of them are former smokers of tobacco cigarettes. The association of the e-cigarette trade is also expecting such a large increase for next year. "We expect a further 50 percent increase in sales in the e-cigarette industry to a turnover of around 600 million euros". Despite or just because of the sales success there is the health hazard and the state regulation violent dispute between industry and medical research as well as wide parts of the policy. "We do not say that e-cigarettes are harmless," says Stone. But the comparison should be drawn from his point of view not with the non-smoker, but with the transition from the classical cigarette. "Otherwise, we only drive smokers back to the latent deadly product of tobacco cigarettes," said Stone.
This is seen differently in the Federal Government. "No one yet knows what health risks of e-cigarettes are and whether they are significantly less safe than conventional cigarettes," said Marlene Mortler, the world's drug agent. There are simply no long-term studies. What is clear, however, is that the liquids contain many chemical substances "which you will not find in good sea or forest air".
The young e-cigarette industry, on the other hand, receives support from an unexpected spot. Even if long-term studies are still missing, an e-cigarette is, according to our findings, much less harmful than a tobacco cigarette. This could be deduced from the functioning alone - no tobacco is burned. However, in this opinion the regulation should be similar to the conventional cigarette.
The advertising of cigarettes is equally controversial. Thus, the drug commissioner EU Mortler calls for a general ban on advertising. With regard to advertising for e-cigarettes, the Drug Commissioner said that these products are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, "at least premature". The European parliament has drafted a bill on the advertising ban for E-cigarettes. The question of an additional tax on the e-cigarette is also explosive. However, a charge for nicotine content is conceivable, and this is exactly what is developed in the ministries concerned. We urgently need meaningful studies on all new smoking products and on this basis a review of the respective tobacco taxation". However, when such a tax bill will come, it is completely open.
The industry behind the e-cigarette is medium-sized in Ireland. Corporate names like EirHorse, Vip or Purple sound not only after new foundations, but most of them are also. The Vapor Products sold in Ireland come to about 90 percent of Chinese production. The fluids are about 70 percent from Europe and here mainly from Uk or Italian production.
In the case of e-cigarettes, the spirits divide at the latest in science: Overcome the dangers of many chemicals, or can millions of human lives be saved in the best case? In the end, both sides really want the same thing: to minimize the enormous health problems caused by cigarettes. How you can achieve this - the opinions could not be more different. Recently, sociomedicologists from New York University of Columbia wrote "Science" even from a "global struggle for e-cigarettes". Basically, both sides attest to good intentions, but behind the façade seething. Peter Hajek, prefect doctor of London's Queen Mary University and representative of a pragmatic attitude, recently criticized the strict opponents of the new technology in the journal "BMC Medicine", for ideological reasons to miss a historic opportunity. The shift from tobacco to e-cigarettes, according to the researcher, could save hundreds of thousands of human lives. In the same magazine, however, Charlotta Pisinger from the Danish Glostrup Hospital held: In her opinion, pragmatists such as Hajek undermine the successes of the battle for tobacco carried on for decades. E-cigarettes were by no means harmless. In addition, they warned non-smokers and former smokers of the desire for genuine cigarettes and make smoking more salonable, she warned.
Pragmatist against strict opponents of the e-cigarette
Both sides have their arguments, but consider the question from opposite perspectives. Pragmatists like Hajek measure the e-cigarette on the conventional glow stick, while strict opponents like Pisinger compare it with complete abstinence. The evaluations are correspondingly different. Why is? While smoking burns the ingredients, a liquid - the liquid - is only evaporated in the e-cigarette at a certain temperature. When inhaled, aerosols enter the lungs, but no combustion products. The liquids consist of more than 90 percent of a carrier substance. This is usually propylene glycol or glycerin. Both substances, listed as food additives E 1520 and E 422 in the EU, are found in chewing gums, among others, or in foggy shops. In the e-cigarettes they provide the visible vapor during inhalation and exhalation. The taste comes from aromas, of which there are thousands in countless flavors - from pineapples to egg liqueur and mint to cotton candy. Most liquids also contain nicotine.
Consumption of e-cigarettes is increasing
While experts are still arguing about dealing with the new technology, consumption is increasing. Patented was the principle of evaporating liquid and inhaling this aerosol more than half a century ago. Such products have only been marketable for several years. Vapers still look more like exotics, but more and more people are seen with the long, futuristic devices. The association of the e-commerce according to own data of currently about 50 thousand people consumers in Ireland. Sudhanshu Patwardhan, who is working for the British American Tobacco Group, recently presented a forecast at a meeting, according to which e-cigarette sales will exceed the traditional glow sticks by 2021. Thomas Hartung of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore also expects the spread to grow significantly. "Probably more people would do this if the experience were comparable to smoking," says the toxicologist. At the moment, the body absorbs significantly less nicotine during steaming than when smoking. "But that's a matter of time, that's just a technological problem."
E-cigarettes less harmful?
Researchers unanimously believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes in spite of possible unknown risks. Recently, pharmacists David Nutt of Imperial College London in the "European Addiction Research" journal recently estimated the health risk of e-cigarettes as being about 4 percent compared to normal cigarettes. Nicotine replacement therapies with gum, patches or sprays are therefore averaged at 2 percent. "The use of other nicotine forms such as e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapies should be encouraged to reduce cigarette consumption, as their risks are much lower," the researchers concluded. Forecasts suggest that in the 21st century about one billion people will die from the effects of smoking. Switching to the steam could save many of them an early death. "We are talking about saving about 100 million people's lives," emphasizes Hartung, pointing to studies that one of nine smokers are steaming. "We should use this opportunity. With a restrictive attitude, a train that is just leaving would be for years. "
Smoke stop with e-cigarette probably lighter
A survey study published by the Cochrane Collaboration at the end of 2014 revealed that e-cigarettes are likely to facilitate a smoke stop. However, the main basis of the result is only two high-quality studies. According to this, 9 per cent of the steamer of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes managed to stop tobacco consumption for at least one year. And more than a third of consumers (36 percent) could halve their cigarette consumption - with placebo it was 28 percent. However, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews says that the encouraging results should be confirmed by further investigations. "Both studies tested low-nicotine e-cigarettes, and more likely newer products with higher and faster nicotine delivery are more effective." The main author of the study, however, was Hajek, a preventive medication known for his pragmatic attitude.
Antifreeze for misting
The scientists examined 28 products, which came from the detal market or from the Internet. "We found nebulizers that we would not have expected, such as ethylene glycol," says biochemist F. Henkler. This substance is known to motorists as antifreeze. "There was no serious toxicological problem in the quantities found, but we do not know how this will have a long-term effect in chronic use." In addition, the researchers found in some liquids allergenic perfumes or the substance coumarin, which may not occur in tobacco products due to liver damage. Carbonyl compounds such as formaldehyde or acetaldehyde could also be formed, especially when more than two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated from the depot, Henkler says. "A level gauge or technical safety features that avoid overheating are helpful," he concludes, adding: "You could minimize a lot of pollutants in emissions. But we are only at the beginning of a technical development. "
Creepy film for chemists
The situation is complicated by the fact that many vapers mix their liquid themselves. On YouTube there are dozens of videos on which people with pipettes, funnels, measuring cups, electric ovens or glass flasks make their own mix. In the studies on the safety of the ingredients, hithert has been mainly due to the fact that there is still no uniform method for the testing of e-cigarettes - so the data are difficult to compare. "At the moment, everyone is cooking his own soup," says the chemist, emphasizing: "The procedures are there, you just have to agree on one thing." Toxikologe Hartung urges to test the ingredients as quickly as possible to provide steamers with a minimum of safety. "We need a comprehensive assessment of these substances to determine the risky substances. Some substances smell of problems, but it seems unlikely in others. "And the biochemist Henkler recommends a positive list:" It would be beneficial to only use flavors that are also permitted for tobacco products. "