What’s Really in Those E-Cigs?

The latest research shows that there are tiny particles of metals in the vapor from E-Cigs. Dr. Stanton Glantz from University of California at San Francisco, and one of the leading researchers on E-Cigs, says, “If you are around somebody who is using e-cigarettes, you are breathing in ultra-fine particles and you are breathing in nicotine.”  Scientist Prue Talbot and her research team at the University of Riverside is one are one of the first to analyze the vapor itself. The findings were metals and more metals in the vapor; along with some oxygen, they found tin, copper and some nickel. Inhaling nanoparticles is dangerous and with a vehicle like E-Cigs, the nanotoxins will go deeper into the lungs. According to Dr. Glantz, “These particles are so very small, they go from your lungs, straight into your blood stream, and carry the toxic chemicals into your blood and then appear in various organs.”

Eating Disorders: Using Smoking As Weight Control

Smoking cigarettes in adolescence has always been considered a pathway to coolness, or a way to fit in. For a time, smoking began to be considered passé, but amongst teens in recovery, it still holds the mythical status of cool and is often key to fitting in. So much so, kids who want to quit or who don’t really want to smoke may even start smoking E-cigarettes in an attempt to reach the same level of cool. (It is just vapor, right?). I digress. For girls who smoke, there may be another reason behind the nasty habit: presumed thinness, or a path to thinness. Some assume that smoking is also the answer to hunger pains and subconsciously satisfy (albeit temporarily) the desire for food.

E-Cigarettes: Harmless? We Think Not

It turns out those some of those fancy electronic cigarettes are being used to deliver something more sinister than nicotine. The “e-cigs” I’m referring to are called “Trippy Sticks” or “iVapor” by those who alter their purpose. This is the latest trend: taking hash oil (or any intoxicant that can be gelled or liquefied) and injecting it into electronic cigarettes or “portable herbal vaporizers.” These “vape pens” as they are called, have no smell, no smoke, and their true contents are virtually undetectable.  Based on e-cigarette technology, users have found a way to inject hash oil into these devices in order to evaporate high levels of THC without having to burn it.  Unless the e-cigarette is tested, no one would ever know it contains something other than nicotine.

Smoking: Not So Cool Anymore

When I was growing up, smoking was emblematic of the Outsiders or James Dean or the Marlboro man. It was a symbol of “cool,” or of being a rebel or a badass. I grew up with tobacco ads emblazoned upon billboards across Los Angeles and littering the pages of magazines. What could possibly be wrong with smoking if it looked so cool, right? Wrong. Did you know that the three men who held the role of the Marlboro Man eventually died of lung cancer, and the infamous brand ended up with the nickname “Cowboy Killers“?  Still, it wasn’t until 1999 that smoking billboards were ultimately replaced with anti-smoking ads, despite efforts toward the prohibition of tobacco advertising building for years.

Hookahs: Exotic and Toxic

In part 3 of this series, we’ll be discussing one of the oldest smoking fads: the Hookah. (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2)

The hookah dates back to the 15th century, at which time its use was revered as one of prestige amongst the upper classes. According to some sources, the hookah was invented in India by Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gīlānī, a physician, who created this system to allow smoke to be passed through water so it could be “purified.” This is still a popular perception today, with many people smoking hookahs indiscriminately, assuming the “particles” from the tobacco are being filtered out.

Marijuana and its Synthetic Counterparts: A Look at a New Study

Part one of a three-part blog, wherein I will begin to address the use of marijuana and synthetic marijuana. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, where I will address the increase in prescription drug and hookah use.

Recent studies elicited by Monitoring the Future (MTF) show a decrease in alcohol consumption and tobacco use; at the same time, they found an increase in the use of alternate tobacco products (hookah, small cigars, smokeless tobacco), marijuana, and prescription drugs.

Can Graphic Imagery Deter Smokers?

Who actually smokes anymore? I find myself saying this every time I see someone light up; especially after all we’ve learned. It’s not like there’s some beneficial properties to smoking chemically treated tobacco!
Anti-smoking laws have been on the rise for years. Truth is, being a smoker is expensive and isolating, not to mention bad for your health. Looks like the ultimate goal is to eliminate smoking in public places once and for all. It used to be that folks could smoke in restaurants or planes, negatively impacting the communal air space. Over time this has changed. As a former smoker, I remember feeling the heat when those first changes were initiated. I remember being resentful and feeling as though my rights were being violated.  My young, feisty attitude screamed, “I can do whatever I want!” and of course, I smoked anyway. I realize now that it wasn’t my “right” to harm those around me. That self-righteousness was really the selfishness of my addiction talking. True to addict form, all I could think about was my next cigarette.
Recently, the FDA released 9 graphic anti-smoking images that are required to be placed on the top half of cigarette packaging by the Fall of 2012. At the same time, Australia will begin enforcing a ban on brand labels on cigarette packaging in an effort to lesson the intrigue and coolness factor associated with smoking. Despite the usual grumblings from the tobacco industry, the FDA is holding firm. Sadly, the graphic images haven’t really impacted the way people are smoking, though. According to a new, German study, smokers that have been deprived of nicotine for short periods of time have a lower response to fear.  “In those who stop smoking, the activity of the fear center has been lowered so much that they are not very receptive to the scary photos,” said study researcher René Hurlemann, of the University of Bonn in Germany.  They came to this conclusion after scanning the brains of 28 smokers and 28 non-smokers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)[1].  And researcher Özgür Onur of the University of Köln noted that smokers, particularly after a 12-hour abstinence, were “indifferent to fear.” Onur went on to say, “It seems that they (smokers) are mentally caught up in their addiction, resulting in a lowered receptivity for fear-inducing stimuli.” That’s a problem, particularly when fear is our body’s natural way of keeping us from doing something perilous. 
While the FDA’s imagery may be useful in deterring non-smokers from picking up in the first place, I hesitate to think that it will greatly change the way current smokers look at their legal drug of choice. The teens I come across certainly aren’t deterred. If anything, they are viewing the graphic images as a joke.
Beyond the current results of these scientific studies, the taste left in my mouth is really one of denial seasoned with a nicotine chaser.


[1] http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/smokers-brain-fear-center-graphic-cigarette-labels-1693/ Gruesome pictures can get the US to quit smoking (newscientist.com) Cigarette Health Warnings (fda.gov)  U.S. unveils graphic tobacco warnings (uk.routers.com)  Secondhand smoke tied to kids’ behavior problems  FDA Releases New Generation of Anti-Smoking Labels

Smoking: Skinny, Gold, and Silver

It’s been some time since cigarettes were labeled “light’ or “low-tar.” These days, over 50 countries use “gold” or “silver,” in their branding. Despite the difference in nomenclature, the misperceptions about safety remain the same: many people believe that cigarettes labeled “light’ or “gold” are somehow better for you than the smokes in the red box. “Slim” brands, which are mainly targeted toward young women are also perceived as being better for you because they’re skinny, implying less poison per hit. The truth is, tobacco is tobacco, and none of it is good for you, no matter how you spin it.