By Jonathan Maple – Muze Staff Writer

The science and hype may not be on the same page when it comes to electronic cigarettes.

The Pitch:

Dave Keener, a 30 year old lifelong smoker, is nestled on his couch – in his Grafton, Massachusetts home – with his girlfriend curled up beside him. He explains that he loves smoking, but there are things missing from his house. The tell-tale odor of burnt tobacco and ash, the slight smoky haze that can permeate the air, the ashtray burdened with burnt butts and the yellowish stains and particle fine dust of ash that can build up in the homes of dedicated smokers are not in evidence.

Keener stopped smoking analog cigarettes about three months ago. Now he smokes a Krave electronic cigarette. The Krave electronic cigarette has the appearance of a normal cigarette: White tube, brown filter and the red glow when he takes a drag, but the white opaque substance that he exhales is not smoke, it is water vapor.

“I wanted to stop smoking, but I didn’t want to use the patch or the gum. I just thought it would be a good way to see how it worked. It doesn’t fulfill you the same way a cigarette would, but it is very close,” said Keener. “It’s way safer than smoking a cigarette….”

Like many advances in the technology age, fire has been replaced by LED lights, and the smoke of a cigarette is replaced by nicotine laced water vapor. Humans have added a new element to tame at their fingertips, electricity. Electronic cigarettes are billed as a cigarette alternative that can be smoked indoors. There are many varieties of these devices, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Like their analog cousins, electronic cigarettes come in a multitude flavor, but unlike analogs the nicotine potency can be adjusted in electronic cigarettes.

Alternative smoking communities are popping up to support this new trend and to share their experiences. The majority of sales for electronic cigarettes are online, as they have not caught on in the main stream just yet, but they are slowly starting to appear on shelves of retailers. Walgreens, a national drugstore chain, carries disposable electronic cigarettes in its tobacco section, and gas stations are stocking cheap disposable varieties.

Michael D’ulisse, a 31-year-old art director at an advertising firm in Philadelphia, runs the YouTube channel FieldofVapor. The channel contains 50 electronic cigarette review videos that he personally made. D’ulisse, who quit smoking analog cigarettes 2-years-ago, has dedicated countless hours and thousands of dollars to inform people about electronic cigarettes.

“I want people to have the same opportunity I have,” said D’ulisse.“My last cigarette was the day I got my first e-cig.”

D’ulisse explained that he started doing reviews of electronic cigarettes when he saw some of the marketing practices of the top brands. He had noticed that many of the reviewers were linked to the companies that made the products, and the system provided some financial incentives to the reviewers.

All new inventions, regardless of its popularity, will have its detractors. Many states and cities are now banning the use of electronic cigarettes indoors or in working environments. Flavors, such as fruit punch, cherry and vanilla maybe snaring individuals into nicotine addiction that would never pick up a cigarette. Since the majority of sales are done online, some see a loop-hole for minors to purchase the devices. Safety concerns have been raised about the nicotine mixtures and what they contain.

Many of these questions are being worked on, and some have been answered. Many of the individuals that are using the electronic cigarettes are former analog cigarette smokers.

“I have done pretty good about staying away from cigarettes. I mean I have had a few, I can’t lie …,” said Keener as he guiltily glanced at his girlfriend Echart. “… but not that many… I want to work to the point where I’m not using that [electronic cigarette] at all.”

The Devices:

The market has flooded with a multitude of electronic cigarettes. These devices range from a small battery and cartridge device that resembles an analog cigarette to devices that must be wielded with two hands.

Electronic cigarettes, or advanced personal vaporizers, are generally made of three components. The first component is the battery; the voltage and size will vary from device to device. The second component is an atomizer coil, generally referred to as an atomizer, which is powered by the battery and produces heat. The third component is a cartridge or reservoir system that holds the nicotine solution. When a user puffs on an electronic cigarette the battery heats the atomizer and pulls the nicotine solution through the coil producing a mist of nicotine solution.

Prudence Talbot, a professor of cell biology and director of the University of California Riverside Stem Cell Center and Stem Cell Core Facility, has been researches electronic cigarettes. Talbot conducts research on the devices and their performance. Her research shows a large amount of variability in electronic cigarettes. Measuring the pressure drop, airflow rate and aerosol production, Talbot finds that the devices vary widely.

“Main thing is the performance of electronic cigarettes … how do [electronic cigarette users] need to puff to get nicotine,” are a couple of variables Talbot is researching. “Do they deliver nicotine effectively… ?”

Talbot finds that many of the devices have to be puffed longer for the user to obtain an equal amount of nicotine, and many times electronic cigarette fall short of the analog cigarette. Talbot speculates that these variances from analog cigarettes may be why some smokers are not quick to change.

“They could, we are trying to understand them and what the delivering to the cessation of smoking,” Talbot responded, when asked if electronic cigarettes could replace analog cigarettes and help users quit. “Their new, certainly in the US, there is little research about them … we need to have more research.”

Some research has shown that naïve users – users that have recently transitioned to electronic cigarettes – may not be getting any nicotine from the devices. Thomas Eissenberg, professor of biopsychology, health psychology and director of the Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, shows that under lab conditions naïve smokers are not receiving nicotine from these devices.

“Both papers show, that the brands tested in the lab – that no nicotine was being received,” said Eissenberg. He explains that these studies are performed with naïve users, but that when a different study included experienced users the results were quite different.

“We had experienced users come in and had them use their own vaping devices … we were able to find a substantial difference,” said Eissenberg. “They were receiving close to the amount of nicotine produced in a cigarette.”

A fourth study performed by Eissenberg used naïve smokers once again, but instead of 20 puffs – like the initial 2 studies – these users were asked to take 60 puffs. These users were also using newer models of electronic cigarettes. The results were similar to that of the experienced electronic cigarette users.

The Quitting Cure:

“I personally agree that it is good to do that,” xplained Talbot when asked about the indoor bans that are sprouting up in major cities. She explained that little is known about what is exhaled from electronic cigarette users. The vapor can coat and build up on surfaces, and this residue is water saleable and can be absorbed into the skin, said Talbot. Air quality may be a factor, but surfaces that can be touched may be rife with this residue.

Another concern about electronic cigarettes is the use by non-tobacco smokers.

“We now see non-tobacco users who are using electronic cigarettes and are now nicotine dependent,” said Eissenburg. “We know the long term effects. Nicotine can affect your brain chemistry, but I’m not concerned about the effect on health … Someone who is nicotine dependent may start smoking”

Eissenburg said that too little was known about the effects of inhaling the vapor. They have flavors and different agents that are being vaporized into your lungs, and we don’t know what the long term effects may be.

“These people who are touting [electronic cigarettes] … ,” said Eissenburg in relation to electronic cigarettes as a force for helping people quit smoking. “… are sharing a belief, but I have no data to prove that.”

Michael D’ulisse, the creator and operator of the YouTube channel FieldofVapor, has over 1200 subscribers and almost 500,000 views of his 50 videos. He explained that he wrestled with his mortality after the death of his father. This led him to start using electronic cigarettes. His experience with his first electronic cigarette went poorly. He didn’t give up though. He did research and started doing reviews of electronic cigarettes.

YouTube is littered with countless reviews and people advocating for or against, with most appearing on the side of the former. Brands are now using social devices to lure users.

“We must be careful when advocating for electronic cigarettes,” said Eissenburg. He related a story that in the 1970’s doctors used to recommend light and ultra-light cigarettes to patients as a healthy alternative. Research eventually panned out that light and ultra-light cigarettes were just as dangerous as full flavored cigarettes, said Eissenburg.

“We must focus on the data … after all data saves lives, not beliefs,” said Eissenburg. “How many failures are there to each success … we don’t know, that’s why we need objective data.”

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Tags: advanced personal vaporizers, BLUX cigarettes, e-cig, Ecig, electronic cigarettes, healthy smoke, Krave, nicotine, Quit smoking, safe smoke. Science, smokingX, smoking studies, trendy smoke, vaping, water vapor


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