E-cigarettes not as harmless as they appear

Red Deer Primary Care Network is warning the public that electronic cigarettes aren’t as harmless as they appear.

Red Deer Primary Care Network is warning the public that electronic cigarettes aren’t as harmless as they appear.

Network chair Dr. Peter Bouch said a study by the Mayo Clinic found antifreeze and other carcinogens in some brands.

“All of these are made in China. We know what’s come from China over the years, and there’s very little control on the actual production of these products, and also the flavourings,” said Bouch on Tuesday.

Even if the electronic cigarette cartridges don’t contain nicotine, the flavourings are chemical substances that need to be studied and regulated, he said.

E-cigarettes are a tobacco-free alternative to smoking. Users inhale the vapours produced by the battery-powered devices that heat up fluid-filled cartridges.

Bouch said flavoured cigarettes have already been banned to protect children and flavoured e-cigarettes could again entice children to smoke.

He said while e-cigarettes have fewer chemicals compared to regular cigarettes, many still have nicotine, which is highly addictive and could be pulled deeper into the lungs because of the strong suction required to smoke e-cigarettes.

Red Deer Primary Care Network has about 40 staff and 78 family doctors as part of multi-professional health teams that offer a variety of health programs that include help to quit smoking.

Bouch said he would not recommend e-cigarettes for anyone wanting to quit and neither would front-line nurses.

“Nicotine addiction is an extremely difficult habit to break. It takes the average smoker five to eight times to quit smoking. The best predictor of quitting smoking is the number of times that you’ve tried, but this shouldn’t be touted as an aid to quit smoking.”

He said e-cigarettes also reinforce the hand-to-mouth behaviour of smoking.

Elsewhere in the world, countries are stepping in to regulate e-cigarettes and so should Canada, he said, adding that more studies into the long-term health effects should also be done.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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