Can THIS Help Smokers Quit?
Since many of my patients have reported using electronic cigarettes to successfully stop smoking, I now recommend the devices to anyone who has tried to quit smoking cold turkey and failed.
And I think it's time that other doctors do, too.
Electronic cigarettes combine a mouthpiece, which contains liquid (including nicotine), an atomizer (which heats the liquid and turns it into vapor), a battery, and an LED tip that glows like the end of a lighted cigarette.
While early versions of the electronic cigarette date back to 1963, with a patent awarded to inventor Herbert Gilbert, the modern versions of electronic cigarettes—the basis for big brands in the industry, such as LOGIC and Blu—were introduced at the beginning of this century.
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My patients prefer electronic cigarettes to the patch or nicotine gum because the products simulate the act of smoking, but not perfectly. Electronic cigarettes are good enough to substitute for real cigarettes, but theyaren’tgood enough to become an addiction. An analogy in the arena of food addiction would be something low calorie that fills you up enough to prevent bingeing, gives you some distance from that addiction, but then becomes forgettable because it isn’t all that compelling.
There is certainly controversy about whether electronic cigarettes are harmless. Critics note that they do, of course, contain nicotine (which is the whole idea, after all). And critics have also found other substances in the vapor released by electronic cigarettes—even cancer-causing substances. These substances, however, appear to be present in amounts so small that proponents claim they'd have no negative effect on health.
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What no one seems to argue about is that electronic cigarettes—from LOGIC or Blu or any other leading brand—are not nearly as dangerous as smoking real cigarettes. LOGIC claims that its device eliminates around 4,000 of the toxins that are found in cigarettes.
Given my experiences and those of numerous clinicians I've spoken with, it would seem to be a good time to conduct large scale clinical trials. In essence, patients who smoke could be given electronic cigarettes by their doctors, encouraged to use them, and then quizzed on their use of real tobacco weeks and months and years later. If the data supports the product, then it may be wise for medical insurance companies to offer electronic cigarettes to smokers for free. My bet is they would save lots of money—namely from the costs of treating heart disease and cancer—down the road.
Video: Scientists look at smokers' brain activity before and after quitting
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