I've seen e-cigarettes mentioned everywhere: on portable signs at the side of the road, in pamphlets on store counters and in the hands of celebrities in gossip magazines.
Many people believe that e-cigarettes are a harmless product that help smokers quit. Are they? Here's the short answer - I have no idea. What I don't know about e-cigarettes is much greater than what I do know.So with that in mind, here's an overview of what I know:
- E-cigarettes that contain nicotine can only be sold in Canada with the approval of Health Canada. Nicotine is a powerful chemical, so the federal Food and Drug Act has oversight. Any e-cigarette that contains nicotine must be reviewed and approved before it can be sold in Canada.
- The Food and Drug Act also applies if the e-cigarette makes a health claim. For example, if it says it can help smokers quit, then that must be proven before it can be sold. Here's the interesting thing, according to Health Canada, no e-cigarette has been approved for sale in Canada.
So why are we seeing so many e-cigarettes around? Here's what I don't know:
- Many of the products being sold are said to not have nicotine. That's good, as nicotine is a very addictive substance.
- But what's in them? We don't know, as the ingredients aren’t listed. We don't know what's in the vapour that is inhaled or expelled.
- We also don't know what the air quality is like in a room where several people are using e-cigarettes.
For more information, check out these resources at QuitNow BC.
Can they help you quit? Again, there isn't a lot of evidence yet and Health Canada has yet to approve them for sale in Canada as a cessation device. However, if you're interested in tested and approved options (including an inhaler that looks like a cigarette and a mouth spray), go to QuitNow BC for more information.
So many British Columbians want to quit smoking and are looking for tools to help them. Have you tried e-cigarettes or approved nicotine sprays or inhalers? Drop us a line and let us know about your experience.