Electronic cigarettes

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the attitude or outlook of anyone else. Anywhere. Ever.

I, like many of you, am a reformed smoker. I grew up in the household of a heavy smoker, and of course couldn’t wait to start myself. My dad smoked non-filtered and I of course swiped cigarettes from him, so I started with a full load of all of the nastiness that they contain. Twenty-some years later, laying in a hospital bed with double pneumonia and an oxygen tube up my nose, I vowed to quit. In those days, there was no nicotine gum or patches or any of the other aids for quitting, so it was just me and the withdrawal.

It was incredibly hard. I was hooked like a mackerel, and it was only my stubbornness that kept me off the things. It is that same stubbornness that now keeps me on the treadmill or the exercise bike for an hour a day.

So now they have come up with another form of idiocy (again, my opinion) in the form of an electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette. The little device is battery-powered and is shaped like a cigarette or a cigar or a ballpoint pen. (I’m not kidding!) The cigarette-looking version has a mouthpiece that looks like a filter, a white tube, and an end that glows when you puff on it!

It is a nicotine delivery system. You load the thing with liquid nicotine, which is heated when you puff on it, and it emits a water vapor that you can inhale and then blow out of your mouth or nose just like a real grown-up! So, you can now satisfy your nicotine addiction without the tars and carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke. It can be argued that it is a step in the right direction, and I suppose there is some truth to that, but there remains the problem of the nicotine addiction.

Nicotine comes from plants related to the nightshade family, which contains some very poisonous members. One of the early uses for nicotine was as an insecticide. No one claims that nicotine is good for you, but there is a great deal of disagreement as to just how harmful it may be. The FDA has issued warnings, but there is of course a great deal of disagreement about the potential harm.

The devices are being marketed as a smoking cessation tool, like nicotine gum and patches. However, the fact that they replace the oral gratification of smoking and the manual manipulation as well as the nicotine may make them much harder to put down. When filter cigarettes first came out, there were studies showing that smokers tended to inhale deeper and more frequently to satisfy their cravings. The same phenomenon may well occur with the e-cigarettes.

Nicotine patches do not come in flavors. The e-cigarettes do. You can get them in tobacco or menthol, coffee or mint or orange or strawberry or vanilla or caramel. Of course, they are not marketed to anyone under the age of 18. Of course not.

So, if you see someone puffing on a ballpoint pen and emitting great clouds of something that looks like smoke, please feel free to assume that they are on fire and act accordingly.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearableportable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.

*By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.

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