Written By Dr. Kyle Griffith
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. We have all heard this line from Charles Dickens', A Tale of Two Cities. This seems to be the theme for the current explosion of alternative tobacco products that is sweeping through society. These include e-cigarettes, dissolvables, water pipes, and smokeless tobacco. Unfortunately, the positives of these alternative tobacco products are small compared to the potential risks.
I have to stretch the definition of positive results when referring to tobacco alternatives. Some limited but conflicting studies show that it may be possible to transition to an e-cigarette as a step in the pathway towards quitting tobacco entirely. Given the current nature of these studies, I would not "hang my hat" on these early results. Another benefit, that I experience personally, is that there is less overall second-hand smoke to experience in the environment. A word of caution concerning vapor, even though it doesn't smell like "smoke," the chemicals that are used in an e-cigarette are aerosolized, meaning that the chemicals are floating through the air. The "second-hand smoke" effect is still present, yet your sensation of this is diminished. These two meager positives are greatly outweighed by the negatives accompanied by any tobacco use.
There are still the traditional concerns of nicotine addiction and cancer formation with alternative tobacco. In addition, the FDA does not have regulatory oversight of these products, which means that essentially any chemical could be used in the products. One study showed that there was formaldehyde found in e-cigarette vapor. That's right: formaldehyde, the same stuff used for embalming! The marketing of these products is also downright scandalous. Alternative tobacco marketing has positioned the products as "technologically superior" and a safe alternative to traditional smoking, even going so far as to package the product to resemble mints or candy. Oh, how deceptive tobacco companies can be! The moral of the story: Tobacco alternatives have not been proven to have less negative health consequences than traditional tobacco. In fact, as research continues we may find that there could be more negative health consequences. It is also disheartening to see an erosion of the gains in smoking cessation by the increased use of tobacco alternatives, especially in teenagers.
While it is nice to walk down the street and not have to experience as much "second-hand" smoke, unfortunately tobacco, in any form, is harmful to the user. At 58 Dental, we encourage our patients to continue the quest to stop using tobacco/nicotine. We know this can be a long and arduous path. Our team is here to help. If you have further questions about alternative tobacco and nicotine products, please don't hesitate to contact us here at the office.
Kyle Griffith DMD
7090 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, CO. 80224