Monday, November 21, 2022

E-cigs and the Brain

Not long ago a young man told me proudly that he had quit smoking cigarettes. I was on the point of commending his choice when he said, “E-cigarettes are much better!” Really? Think again. I referred him to the NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse fact sheet. Also known as ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems)e-cigs typically consist of a power source, which is usually a battery; some type of vaporizer or heating device; and a liquid that contains nicotine along with flavorings such as candy, fruit, mint, and coffee, and other chemicals. In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting aerosol or vapor is then inhaled (called ‘vaping’).Because they deliver nicotine without burning tobacco leaves, many tout them as a safer and less toxic alternative to traditional cigarettes. Very little is actually known about the long-term health risks of using these e-cigarette devices. Even in States that have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, teens have been obtaining them by simply ordering the devices online. Particles breathed into the lung from the tobacco and other chemicals take up space that would have been used by oxygen-filled air, which means the brain is frequently partly anoxic: not getting enough oxygen to adequately fuel processes in the brain.

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