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Dr. Mark: Your opinion on electronic cigarettes?

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I have smoked 15-18 cigarettes a day for 7 years. As I'm sure you know, nicotine is terribly addicting and though we smokers are well aware that cigarettes are slowly killing us, we find it near impossible to quit. Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as Nicorette, Nicoderm, losenges and even inhalers have an unusually high relapse rate. Some have postulated that this is due to the psychological addicition to the act of smoking itself. A smoker feels at ease by the movements of bringing the cigarette to his mouth, taking a drag, feeling the warmth and seeing the smoke exhaled.

I have tried numerous times to quit smoking but have not been successful. Last month I was introduced to electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) by my grandfather. He has smoked since his teens and at 2-3 packs a day for 30 years! He bought an e-cig kit from the local drug store 3 months ago and has not had a single cigarette since. I decided based on his success that I would give it a try. I was immediately able to go from 15-18 per day to 1 per day. I still felt the urge to have one when I got home from work as it was my ritual. I did that for about a week until I ran out of cigarettes and decided not to buy another pack. I'm pleased to say I have been smoke free for 1 week with none of the typical withdrawl symptoms associated with quitting cold turkey which, for me, can be quite intense. I have absolutely no intentions of ever going back. After the first 3 days of cutting back to 1 per day, I found the taste and smell of cigarettes to be disgusting. I have a new found sympathy for smokers who had to deal with that around me.

Obviously, reducing the number of inhaled chemicals from the 4000 found in cigarettes including 43 known carcinogens to the 4 chemicals in e-cig vapor (USP propylene glycol, USP vegetable glycerin, USP nicotine and food grade flavoring...they do come unflavored and nicotine free if desired reducing that numer to 2) is significantly better for your health. My question to you is: Do you have any specific health concerns with e-cigs? Do you believe they are a viable alternative as either a replacement for tobacco for those who don't feel they can or don't wish to quit smoking, or as a stepping stone toward quitting nicotine altogether that fulfills both the addition to nicotine, the ability to reduce the dose over time and placates the psychological addiction to the act of smoking itself?

I appreciate what you do for this community and look forward to your response. Thank you.

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After smoking a pack a day for about 20 years, I tried the e cigarette early last year. I have to admit, my main motivation was to cut down on the expense of smoking rather than quitting. I haven't had a cigarette in almost a year.

While I will agree that the e-cigg is much better health wise, I don't believe they are healthy. We know that a regular cigarette is bad for us, it's been proven in repeated studies, and anyone who smokes can most likely attest to that. OTOH, the e-cigg is not as studied, and although I have seen some benefits to my health, I believe that those same benefits would have been much higher if I would have quit completely.

I have seen improvements in my sense of smell and taste, apetite, some lung capacity, and I don't suffer from the dry scratchy throat or the "smokers cough" any more. However, although many say that the e-cig is just water vaper with nicotine, I don't think that's really true. Taking into account that you are vaporizing liquids (base liquid, and flavorings) that weren't neccessarily developed for that purpose I don't know what the long term side effects may be. If you go to any large e-cig discussion board, you'll find that the health is a highly contested topic with no clear answer. However, the general consesus is that it is much healthier than regular cigaretts, but not as healthy as quitting.

If you're a smoker looking to cut down or quit, I would highly recomend e-cigs.

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My friend has been using the E cig, he finally stopped, said the vapor was causing more issues with his lungs than smokes were. I am glad I just quit and didnt do the ecig personally.

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