If you’re trying to drop cigarettes, don’t look to their electronic counterparts.
That’s the conclusion from a new literature review by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
There’s no evidence e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, the review states.
But that’s not necessarily the only reason to use e-cigarettes.
Matthew Edward has been ‘vaping’ for 18 months and said he views it as an alternative, not a deliberate cessation method.
He likens vaping to a hobby, such as lighting up tobacco pipes.
E-cigarettes simulate cigarette smoking, however, the user inhales vapour instead of smoke.
Edward uses e-cigarettes “almost exclusively” and estimates he has used one pack of actual smokes since he began vaping.
“If I’m out with friends and they’re all outside smoking I might bum (a real cigarette) then,” he said.
He didn’t intend to quit smoking while using e-cigarettes.
“It just sort of happened,” said Edward.
That may not be a bad thing, but with rising consumer interest in e-cigarettes, the city’s associate medical officer of health Dr. Rosamund Lewis expresses concern decades of work — resulting in decreased rates of cigarette smoking and smoke-free environments — is being thrown out the window.
“Our position is that we don’t endorse them at all,” said Lewis.
“We don’t know what harm they cause … there’s no evidence as of yet.”
There are two kinds of e-cigarettes: Disposable and rechargable.
Some e-cigarettes on the market contain nicotine or claim to have health benefits — both are frowned upon by Health Canada.
Convenience stores, gas stations, and discount stores sell disposables for about $10 a pop, while stores such as e-Steam Canada sell starter kits and refillable liquid for about $125.
At e-Steam’s Gloucester Centre location, staff make a sale “every 3.5 minutes,” said co-owner Steve Moreau.
Opponents argue most e-cigarettes falsely claim to be nicotine-free.
The e-Steam brochure indicates products are sold with varying of levels of nicotine, which is illegal, said policy director for the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association Melodie Tilson.
“They also say that we sell to children, which we don’t,” said Moreau.
Health Canada never prohibited nicotine in e-cigarettes, he said. They just advised people not to use them.
Regardless, “we don’t want to see these products banned because we do think they have great potential to help smokers quit,” said Tilson.
“We do need Health Canada to enforce manufacturing standards like they would with other consumer products.”
Health Canada “continually monitors the safety of health products on the market,” spokeswoman Blossom Leung wrote in a statement.
“If a health risk is identified, Health Canada will determine the appropriate measures necessary to minimize the risk(s) to Canadians.”
Visit ottawa.ca/quitsmoking for resources.