E-cigarette sales are rising and they may not be as effective for quitting smoking as marketers make them out to be.
E-cig sales continue to soar in the United States. This emerging product category has made a big impact in a relatively short time, and e-cig sales show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Unfortunately, there are plenty of downsides associated with growing e-cigarette sales, including poisoning cases involving young children. As this market is so young and is growing so quickly, there is still a lot to be learned about the harms that are possible and what can be done to limit the potential damage.
Looking at the sales numbers for e-cigarettes makes it obvious that these products have become incredibly popular across the country. As of January 2020, sales in this category were registering at 15.5 million. Just a couple of years later, in December 2022, those numbers were up to 22.7 million. This marks a sharp incline in the number of e-cig products being used, which is bad news for public health as a whole.
Despite the marketing angle that e-cigarettes are not as harmful as traditional cigarettes, and may be helpful in the quitting process, researchers say this likely is not the case. The long-term impact of using these products remains relatively unclear at this point, so anyone choosing to use them with the limited information available is taking a risk with their health as a result. If an individual was able to quit traditional cigarettes using this option and also kick their e-cig habit, that’s great, but that’s best case scenario.
Beyond the health risk to the user, there is also the potential for poisoning if young children get their hands on an e-cigarette product and manage to ingest the liquid directly. In fact, these kinds of calls are already coming into poison control centers and being dispatched out to emergency responders across the country, and such calls have doubled along with the rising popularity of these products. It seems certain that as popularity and availability go up, so too will the number of poisoning cases that threaten the health of young people.
Adding to the concern around e-cigarettes is the issue of uncertainty regarding the contents of the liquids that they use. If someone is trying to quit nicotine, for example, they might turn to e-cigarettes as a solution – only to find that the e-cig liquid they use actually contains nicotine despite being marketed otherwise. In an industry that has quickly risen to prominence, quality control might not be quite what it should be, and consumers could be at risk as a result.
Positioning e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional nicotine cigarettes can be misleading. After all, “healthier” doesn’t mean “healthy,” and there could still be plenty of negative health impacts to come down the line. Nicotine, the addictive additive, for one, makes users hooked on e-cigs just the same. When those potential health risks are added to the issue of poisoning in young children, burns for users, and other problems, avoiding e-cigarette usage seems like the optima approach for most individuals.