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Controversy still surrounds e-cigarettes
By Doha Ghouth
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 12 - 2011


Saudi Gazette
An electronic cigarette is a battery-powered device that delivers nicotine liquid solution in a vaporized form that gives the same effect as a tobacco cigarettes.
Hon Lik, the inventor of this gizmo, was nominated for a Kcancer hero award in 2010 when asked about the reason behind Lik's nomination CEO of Kcancer Anthony Hu, MD, said: “In the US alone, more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths occur due to tobacco smoking. The electric cigarette offers an alternative to smoking tobacco, yet still allows them to have the nicotine they want and to engage in the most realistic mock smoking act available.”
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) struggles to gain regulatory control while safety studies are in progress since 2009. The FDA issued a statement back in July of 2009 warning against the existence of toxic chemicals and antifreeze ingredients in e-cigarettes and finally in early 2011 the FDA said that e-cigarettes and other products made or derived from tobacco can be regulated as “tobacco products” and are not drugs/devices unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes.
Mishaal Shihab, who used to be a heavy smoker, is a strong advocate for e-cigarettes. “I have been an intense smoker for over 10 years but when I found electronic cigarettes I decided to switch completely. They are even more appealing because of their convenience and lack of odor and tar. I barely notice the difference.”
Electronic cigarettes are banned in a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but are sold online and are delivered to your doorstep within days. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like real cigarettes, cigars or pipes; others look like pens or USB memory devices.
Hassan Denaoui, 13, shocked his father by brining an e-cigarette home one day. “I didn't know how to react. My son went to his friend's house and came back holding this device that his friend had bought from a mall in the US. He was excited to show it to me. I didn't know what to do and how to convince him that he can't keep it.”
Malik Denaoui explained to his son Hassan the means and the use of e-cigarettes and that they were not meant for adolescents like him.
Malik fears that other parents have no knowledge of this and are letting their children go ahead and smoke these cigarettes in disguise.
Samar says her husband Loay buys e-cigarettes for their teenage sons every time he goes to the US. “I always have a fight with him over them but he insists that they are safe and that they are not addictive.”
Dr. Nawal Mashtatee, an ENT specialist at Tala Clinic, says: “I don't personally recommend them but I would rather have my patients smoke e-cigarettes than have Shisha or regular cigarettes.”
Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher at Boston University, says tobacco contains about 5,000 known chemicals, and 100,000 more that are unidentified.
The researchers also found evidence that vaping reduces cravings among smokers, not just for nicotine but also for the need to hold something in their hands and put something in their mouths, making the devices more appealing to them than patches or gum.
Siegel says electronic cigarettes are not the healthiest strategy to quit smoking.
“They are just better than what they're meant to replace.” __


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