E-cigarettes: could they change the tobacco industry forever? — the week

ales in cigarettes dropped 6.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 a jump from the 3 percent to 4 percent declines they’ve seen in recent years.

Meanwhile, sales of e cigarettes those battery powered tubes you see people puffing indoors have doubled. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 21 percent of smokers had tried e cigs, up from 10 percent in 2010. And after making $500 million last year, retail sales of e cigs are expected to balloon to $1 billion in 2013, says the Wall Street Journal.

The three biggest cigarette companies see a connection between tobacco’s losses and e cigs’ gains and they want in on the burgeoning industry.

Altria, the world’s biggest tobacco company and owner of Marlboro, on Thursday announced plans to roll out its own e cig in the second half of 2013. The second largest tobacco company, Reynolds American, which already produces an e cig called Vuse, said this week that they plan to expand distribution. The third giant, Lorillard, was the first on the trend The company paid $135 million for the popular brand Blu Ecigs last year.

The cigarette industry has been under attack for decades now, and has seen a steady decline in sales since 1998. The largest yearly drop occurred between 2009 and 2010, after the Obama administration enacted a 62 cent tax hike per pack of cigarettes. Congress is now considering adding another 94 cents per pack, nearly doubling the current federal tax from $1.01 to $1.95.

So could e cigarettes be the next big thing in the tobacco world?

They certainly have their benefits. For starters, they re about half the cost of regular cigarettes. They also do not contain tar and other harmful carcinogens, leading some scientists to believe they are far healthier than traditional cigarettes. Furthermore, the nicotine in an e cig is vaporized, avoiding the combustion process of a lit cigarette, which releases some of tobacco’s most damaging toxins. On top of that, some studies say they actually help people quit smoking tobacco.

And possibly the best part? They don’t smell bad.

But e cigarettes aren’t necessarily a panacea for America’s dangerous smoking habit. The Journal reports that an FDA spokeswoman said Thursday that «‘further research is needed’ on the ‘potential health benefits and risks’ of electronic cigarettes.» Furthermore, e cigs still contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance.

And in the words of Consumer Reports

Critics say that too little is known about the safety of e cigarettes, which are unregulated. Some experts also worry that their availability online where a user need only click a box saying he or she is 18 could entice children and teens to try them. So could some of the flavors, such as pi&ntilde a colada and vanilla. Consumer Reports

Many states have already regulated the sale of e cigarettes to minors.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Florida man who claimed serious injuries in 2012, after an e cigarette «exploded in his mouth.»

Still, e cig companies see a huge opportunity to expand their market beyond ex smokers, and have started marketing campaigns to make the products seem hip. Here is the an Internet ad from NJoy, a popular e cig brand, that features Hole singer and dedicated smoker Courtney Love

How people get addicted : canadian lung association

Facts about smoking

  • How smoking hurts your health
  • What s in cigarettes
  • How people get addicted
  • Is there a safe tobacco
  • Teens & smoking
  • Cigars & pipes
  • Marijuana smoke
  • Statistics on smoking

How people get addicted

Nicotine is one of the main ingredients in tobacco. Nicotine is a powerful drug that speeds up the brain and central nervous system. It triggers the release of a chemical in your brain (dopamine) that boosts your mood, makes you feel calm, and at the same time, can make you feel more alert. The nicotine in cigarette smoke is absorbed through the skin lining of the mouth and the nose. The nicotine level in your blood peaks within 10 seconds of inhaling (breathing in) cigarette smoke into your lungs.

Over time, your brain adjusts to the stimulation («buzz») from nicotine and lowers your natural energy level or mood. You may then start to crave a cigarette for a boost. The more you smoke the more nicotine you need to feel good. Soon, your body craves nicotine to feel «normal.» Being without nicotine for even a few hours can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches, depression, anger, anxiety, and problems sleeping.

Withdrawal symptoms last about a week for most people. You can cope with them by knowing what to expect and finding other ways to handle cravings before you quit. Withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your body is healing. They won’t last forever.

How behaviour feeds nicotine addition

The other part of nicotine addiction is behaviour. After months or years of smoking, cigarettes become a part of your daily life. You may light a cigarette out of habit as soon as you get into the car or when you drink a cup of coffee.

Smoking habits can also be formed by the way you feel many smokers reach for a cigarette when they feel bored, stressed or angry. Even if you have been smoking for many years, you can learn to live without cigarettes. But it takes practice. It’s important to know your triggers and plan how you will deal with each of them before you quit.

Fast facts about nicotine

  • Nicotine is an addictive drug that affects the brain and nervous system. At higher doses, nicotine is a poison that has been used as an insecticide
  • Nicotine has a powerful effect on the brain and the central nervous system
  • Within seven seconds, about one quarter of the nicotine has gone through your bloodstream straight to the brain. The rest of the nicotine travels to other areas of the body
  • Nicotine causes a rise in heart rate and in the rate of breathing
  • Nicotine increases the tendency of the blood to clot and causes an increased need for oxygen, which makes the heart work harder.