You’ve probably seen them out and about: ads for electronic, or “E” cigarettes that say they are an alternative to traditional tobacco products. But are they safer? Do they pose other risks?
We sat with Frank Leone, MD, MS, Director, Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Programs at Penn Medicine to talk about the trend in e-cigarettes.
It sounds safer than tobacco, is it?In the short term, it probably isn’t that bad. Think about it. When you go see a theater performance, or a band perform, you might be exposed to “smoke” from a smoke machine. That smoke machine is using the same, or similar vapor as e-cigarettes. The vapor in e-cigarettes contains propylene glycol, a substance that is probably not best inhaled over long periods of time.
Short term effects of that smoke machine in a theater are probably okay, but what about the next 10, 15, 20 or 30 years? It might not accumulate in the lungs, but maybe the bladder or liver. It might do different harm than regular cigarettes.
Can e-cigarettes help people quit smoking?E-cigarettes have the potential to be an effective alternative, if they really help people stop smoking. The problem is, it’s not really a guaranteed way to quit smoking entirely. For many, it’s simply substituting one smoking behavior for another.
In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that teens who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke real cigarettes, and less likely to quit than those that never used e-cigarettes.
Nicotine addiction is complex. People addicted to nicotine know it’s bad for them, yet they can’t stop. And those not addicted to nicotine can’t understand why smokers can’t quit. Even family members and friends have a hard time understanding nicotine addiction.
Quit Smoking with PennPenn Medicine’s Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program works hard to help smokers and their families understand why they feel trapped and powerless to change. Our team tries to understand the specific needs of every smoker, whether it relates to health, family, work, or other aspects of their lives.
Our program is based on the belief that smokers deserve to quit comfortably, so the treatment tends to be aggressive with medications in a way that helps keep that “devil inside” quiet. Most of all, the team respects the problem for what it is, an addiction. And they respect the people struggling to find a way out from under it.
Specialists in Penn’s Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program have been fortunate to help thousands of patients overcome nicotine addiction over the years, and it’s amazingly rewarding. Patients keep in touch with the program throughout the years. Our staff answers their questions, provides them with support during difficult times, and helps them to get right back on track if they relapse.