Proponents tout benefits of using e-cigarettes to quit smoking

Last updated: May 05. 2014 9:26AM - 4629 Views
By - woboyle@civitasmedia.com

Jessica Zelonis, of Pittston, says she was able to quit smoking by switching to an e-cigarette.
Jessica Zelonis, of Pittston, says she was able to quit smoking by switching to an e-cigarette.
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What are E-cigarettes?

According to the Centers in Disease Control in Atlanta:

• Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives to the user in an aerosol. E-cigarette cartridges typically contain nicotine, a component to produce the aerosol (e.g., propylene glycol or glycerol), and flavorings (e.g., fruit, mint, or chocolate).

• Potentially harmful substances also have been documented in some e-cigarette cartridges, including irritants, genotoxins and animal carcinogens.

• Use of e-cigarettes has increased among U.S. adult current and former smokers in recent years; however, the extent of use among youths is uncertain.

WILKES-BARRE — Jessica Zelonis feels healthier since she quit tobacco nearly eight months ago, but she hasn't quit smoking.
Well, she doesn't smoke tobacco, she “vapes” — ihaling a vapor from “juices” in her electronic cigarette device.
Zelonis, 31, of Pittston, is one of many people who have stopped lighting up and started igniting electronic cigarettes. They inhale a flavored vapor, some with high level of nicotine.
“I still get the sensation of smoking,” Zelonis said. “But I don't wake up every morning coughing, I have no chest congestion and my clothes don't stink.”
Zelonis said she was vacuuming her carpet at home when she got winded. She said she immediately quit tobacco and went to the e-cigarette device. She went from smoking a pack and a half day to occasionally taking hits on her e-cigarette.
On this recent day, Zelonis was inhaling an orange crush juice with a medium level of nicotine. Her goal is to get off of nicotine.
Response to FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released its long-awaited draft regulations for electronic cigarettes, commonly called e-cigarettes and other alternatives to smoking. The proposed rules that would:
• Ban sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18;
• Add warning labels;
• Require FDA approval for new products.
The FDA followed that up with proposing to extend its authority to regulate cigars, hookahs, nicotine gels and pipe tobacco.
The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) said the regulations offer little benefit. According to CASAA, the leading advocate for the current and future consumers of low-risk alternatives to smoking, the FDA proposed rules will inflict harm on consumers.
“This is a classic case of government imposing a 'solution' and then looking for a problem,” CASAA President Julie Woessner said in a news release. “The regulations do nothing to address real concerns, and instead are a slow-motion ban of the high quality e-cigarettes that have helped so many smokers quit. The rules would mostly require busy-work filings that impose huge costs with little apparent benefit.”
CASAA Scientific Director Dr. Carl V. Phillips said the FDA has “cherry-picked the available evidence, blindly accepting any assertion that favors aggressive regulation and ignoring the overwhelming evidence about the harms that these regulations would cause.”
While the regulations don't openly ban the refillable devices, proponents say they impose a costly registration and approval process that would effectively eliminate them.
In the CASAA release, Phillips said the higher quality the e-cigarette device is — along with the appealing flavors of the juices used to create the vapor — the better chances are for smoking cessation.
“Many former smokers report that they were always tempted to go back to smoking while using the smaller devices with imitation tobacco flavoring, but they quit smoking for good when they found better hardware and flavors that no longer reminded them of smoking,” Phillips said.
According to CASAA:
• It is estimated that as many as a million American smokers have quit or substantially reduced their smoking thanks to e-cigarettes.
• Many are already making plans for a “black market” if the FDA regulations take effect.
• Those smokers who are using e-cigarettes in a transition stage could easily return to smoking — and future potential switchers may never be able to make the transition — if the restrictions on high-quality products are imposed.
CASAA President Woessner, who quit smoking thanks to e-cigarettes, fears such impacts.
“If I had been limited to only those products that would exist under this regulation, I would probably still be smoking,” she said.
Favoring flavors
Local e-cigarette users, like Zelonis, raved about the products, claiming better health and a more enjoyable experience over tobacco smoking.
“I just feel healthier,” Zelonis said. “I recently had a head cold and I had no chest congestion issues. I feel like I have more lung capacity.”
And Zelonis said she has no desire to return to tobacco, even with her husband, Kristopher, still smoking cigarettes in her presence. She said peer pressure got her into smoking years ago, but she said she will never go back.
“And it's much cheaper,” Zelonis said. “My initial cost was $40 and the juice I use costs about $10 per month. Plus I find myself taking fewer hits during the day.”
Zelonis bought her e-cigarette device at Primal in the Pine Mall on Kidder Street. She learned about the products and the juices and she found the staff at Primal to be knowledgeable and the products sold are high quality.
Mark Sweeting, 27, of Kingston and formerly of North Carolina, works at Primal. Sweeting started smoking tobacco at age 13, but he quit a year ago when he started using e-cigarettes.
“I haven't smoked tobacco since,” he said.
“At first I was using a juice with a high level of nicotine and I gradually went down. A lot people people ween themselves off of nicotine.”
Sweeting says he no longer feels congested when he wakes up, and he generally feels much healthier.
Sweeting said Primal deals with “top-notch” companies, like Mount Baker Vapor, who he says is a self-regulated company that conducts studies and uses pharmaceutical grade ingredients in its juices.
Sweeting said e-cigarette products are sold in varying degrees of quality. He said the lower-priced products are not as effective as the devices sold in high-end stores like Primal.
Even though there are no age restrictions on the sale of e-cigarette products, Primal doesn't sell to anybody under 18.
E-cigarette option
Cooper Sechrist, 19, of Mountain Top, smoked tobacco for five years before opting for e-cigarettes.
“I haven't touched a cigarette since,” he said. “My clothes don't smell anymore, I don't have the bad taste of stale smoke in my mouth and I feel better.”
Sechrist said he was concerned about the health effects from smoking tobacco. Now, he said he enjoys the fruitier flavored juices in his e-cigarette device.
“I definitely recommend e-cigarettes,” he said. “It's much cheaper too; I've saved a lot of money by quitting tobacco.”
But Sechrist's girlfriend, Rachel Skiro, 18, of Mountain Top, still smokes tobacco, a habit she began seven years ago.
“I'm not ready to quit,” she said. “I think you have to be ready to quit something you're addicted to. There's a lot of psychological stuff involved. I will quit eventually, and I'm sure I'll save a lot of money.”
Rick Eisenhauer, 46, of Berwick, is a corporate trainer who started using e-cigarettes on Oct. 15, 2012. He said he and a group of about 60 co-workers decided to go the e-cigarette route to stay off tobacco.
“I just had a medical check-up and I have 97 percent lung capacity,” Eisenhauer said. “And I don't wake up constantly coughing and hacking.”

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