They look like cigarettes, act like cigarettes, give smokers their nicotine fix. And yet, they’re not cigarettes. They’re electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigs.” According to this CNN report, sales of e-cigs have been increasing over several years in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Brazil.
The claimed benefits? Instead of inhaling smoke, “e-smokers” (I just made that up) inhale a mixture of vaporized water, nicotine and propylene glycol (a common additive in food coloring and cake mixes). Yum. Their exhalation is not odorous second hand smoke, but just water vapor. According to the e-cig sellers, these battery-filled butts do not contain tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide or any of the other thousands of cancer-causing toxins in real cigarettes. Like the patch or the gum, e-cigs claim to help smokers kick their habit.
So are they healthier? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not entirely convinced. E-cigs are still an unapproved new drug due of a lack of scientific proof that they’re safe or effective.
So are they greener? While smoking is a pretty unsustainable habit at its core, it’s true that e-cigs produce no smoke, ash or air pollution. Switching to e-cigs will help cut-down on the over four trillion cigarette butts that litter sidewalks around the world each year. Plus, e-cigs aren’t made of natural resources, such as paper and tobacco plants. However, they do use electricity, obviously. But the batteries are rechargeable and one cartridge contains enough nicotine and water to smoke the equivalent of at least a pack of cigarettes.
AND, they come in six flavors: tobacco, menthol, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry.
Companies like Green Smoke, a more recent e-cig company to enter the market, and Green Cigarette are branding their products as the green alternative to smoking. What do you think?