While it seems that there are always critics of every product or industry today, the critics of the e-cigarette industry are quick to jump on anything that will create an uproar to get media attention that is negative to the industry. Such is the case with the recent statements made regarding the use of e-cigarettes and the impact it may have on brain function that was claimed by Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a doctor associated with the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School.
The allegations from Dr. Winickoff state that the use of e-cigarettes and products using nicotine by teenagers is akin to Russian roulette when it comes to brain function. The doctor indicated that teenagers that use e-cigarettes have higher potential for depression, memory problems, anxiety and difficulties with tension when they reach adult age. “Essentially, this drug creates a biologic need that can be permanent,” he states.
There have been a number of studies that have stated that the use of e-cigarettes does not lead to using tobacco products, but Dr. Winickoff does not see this as true. He believes it sets up the brains of adolescents for stronger and more durable addiction pathways. He believes these addictions will not only be for nicotine but for other addictive substances such as marijuana, cocaine and other drugs. He also states that addiction to nicotine is worse for teens, as the most susceptible young people will become addicted to tobacco after using it only a few times. Before they realise it they are addicted. The younger they start the more addictive they become.
Because of all of this information that the media has put forth there are many more people that see e-cigarettes as an enemy that needs to be removed or heavily regulated. It is only when the theories put forth by Dr. Winickoff are examined closely that the scientific truth comes out.
The first issue of note is that e-cigarettes do not have any tobacco in them. The danger of e-cigarettes lies solely in the use of nicotine. Science does indicate nicotine is found, at varying levels, in a natural form in many substances. In order to keep children completely free of nicotine some foods found commonly on dinner plates need regulation as well, such as eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cauliflower, tea, salsa, spaghetti sauce and many others. All of those foods have some levels of nicotine in them. According to the statements made by Dr. Winickoff, eating potatoes or tomatoes could lead to a life involving cocaine abuse.
It is also important to note that there has not been any evidence that exposure to nicotine by itself affects brain development. When looked at closely, no evidence suggests nicotine singularly is actually harmful; it can often be seen very similarly in nature as the same impact on health that drinking coffee can have. The danger that involves nicotine is when it is combined with tobacco and chemical compounds found in cigarettes. Without the tobacco use, e-cigarettes reduce health risks over traditional cigarettes.
The misinformation put forth by health “experts” that provide studies that are misleading, facts that are twisted and statements using this misinformation is what leads to all of the fear involving e-cigarettes. It has led many people to question who is behind all of this and many eyes turn to the tobacco industry as the culprit. Is it possible that the tobacco industry is funding a lot of this research under the names of organisations to cover their involvement? Do lobbyists in Washington push against e-cigarettes and the industry so the tobacco industry will keep thriving? These are important questions to consider.