Since 2002, according to Claire Altschuler within an article in the May 2015 issue of the AGD Impact magazine, some research has shown that the number of former smokers in the United States has been greater than the number of current smokers. With this, there has been an increased interest in other nicotine and tobacco products. Many consider these safer; however, some researchers consider these other products to have the same dangers as smoking cigarettes. These other dangers include nicotine addiction, multiple forms of cancers, gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information on the ingredients contained within these other products. Moreover, there is a lack of federal regulation on these products. On top to this, multiple products have candy-like flavors and packaging to attract our youth, and they all are readily available. As a result, these other nicotine and tobacco products are becoming a potential health problem.
These other nicotine and tobacco products include:
- Smokeless tobacco
- Water pipes or Hookahs
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that are battery operated and can be re-charged with a USB port. Their ingredients remain unregulated. Their vapors include formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. They are also considered to be a gateway to conventional cigarettes or other tobacco products. The FDA wants to regulate these. Already, forty states, as of December of 2014, have adopted regulations on these e-cigarettes. The dangers thought to be associated with e-cigarettes include:
- adverse effects on the developing brain of adolescents
- development of nicotine addiction
- same health problems associated with conventional cigarettes
Smokeless tobacco contains of course tobacco, as well as sugars and toxins. Because they are less regulated, they are taxed less and are thus less expensive. Their use in increasing within our youth. The dangers thought to be associated with smokeless tobacco include:
- gum disease
- various forms of cancers
- nicotine addiction
Water pipes or Hookahs are a form of smoking through a more ornate container involving water in a lower chamber. The pipes are commonly smoked in cafes or bars, and are shared amongst many smokers over a prolonged period of time. As a result, exposure to second-hand smoke is much greater. This form of tobacco use has been gaining in popularity amongst high school and college students. The dangers thought to be associated with water pipes or Hookahs include:
- infectious diseases or colds as a result of the sharing of the pipes
- exposure to high levels of tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, carcinogens, and nicotine
- increased risk of various forms of cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses
Dissolvables are tablets, sticks, or strips that are put into the mouth until they disintegrate over a 10-30 minute time frame. They are often packaged like candy and often taste like candy. They are readily available within convenience stores with lesser taxes than conventional cigarettes. As a result, our youth are being targeted, and our youth can use these products quite discreetly. The dangers thought to be associated with dissolvables include:
- exposure to tobacco, sweeteners, and nicotine
- accidental poisoning
- same risks as those associated with conventional cigarettes
Because many of these products are new, there is not much research on them specifically. However, there is much research to show that tobacco and nicotine are a health problem. In time, perhaps these will be more regulated. In the mean time, we all must be educated and vigilant on these products and their use.
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