The e-cigarette: A safe alternative?

The e-cigarette: A safe alternative?

There are 51 comments on the Las Cruces Sun-News story from Jan 11, 2011, titled The e-cigarette: A safe alternative?. In it, Las Cruces Sun-News reports that:

Mary Ballard, 38, southwest field coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Health Tobacco Use, Prevention and Control Program, shows off some anti-tobacco campaign posters.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Las Cruces Sun-News.

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Long Island City, NY

#1 Jan 11, 2011
Enjoyed your article.
If Ms. Ballard truly cared about battling tobacco use, she'd be advocating for e-cigarette usage. We know what the long-term effects of smoking are, and they're caused by inhaling smoke, not nicotine.

Rio Rancho, NM

#2 Jan 11, 2011
Great Point GCC!

Montréal, Canada

#3 Jan 11, 2011
After smoking for five years now, I finally decided to order an e-cigarette after hearing good things about them. My favorite thing is that my e-cig doesn't smell. A lot of my nonsmoker friends love the device, since I can smoke it anywhere without having to stink the area up with smoke.

If you're interested in finding out more about e-cigs, I suggest taking a look at this blog. It has a lot of reviews of different brands along with some getting started guides.

United States

#4 Jan 11, 2011
FDA-approved smoking cessation products have an abysmal success rate of between 3% and 5%. I was one of the failures. It wasn't until I got an e-cigarette in March '09 that I was finally able to stop lighting up after 30+ years. My health has improved immeasurably.

Ms. Ballard is terribly disingenuous. In one breath, she's worried about nicotine; in the next, she's pushing it (I guess it's okay as long as Pfizer makes the money?). The nicotine in e-cigarettes is no more or less dangerous than the nicotine in the patch or the gum. In fact, nicotine carries about the same health risks as caffeine. Not great if you have a heart problem or are pregnant, but magnitudes of order safer than smoking.

She's also wrong that e-cigarettes haven't been studied. There are at least 16 toxicology reports that found nothing to be concerned about. Does that mean e-cigarettes are safe? Of course not. What it does mean is that they're likely up to 99% safER than traditional cigarettes.(And for the record, nothing is safe in large enough quantities, including water). In the more than 7 years e-cigarettes have been on the market, there hasn't been a single report of a serious adverse event. Compare that with the more than 300 U.S. deaths from Chantix.

The FDA wants to regulate e-cigarettes as a drug. Both the federal court and the federal court of appeals have told them in no uncertain terms that they can't do that. FDA refuses, so far, to regulate them as tobacco products, though that's what the court has suggested they do, and that's why e-cigarettes remain unregulated: because the FDA refuses to obey the courts.

Surely Ms. Ballard also knows that tobacco companies (so far) have nothing to do with e-cigarettes. She's trying to cast herself as David vs. Goliath, and it's baloney. She and her ilk are the Goliath in this story--not the e-cigarette companies.

If Ms. Ballard truly cared about smokers, she'd be on the right side of this battle. She's obviously on the side of pharmaceutical companies, which fund the anti-tobacco groups and make Big Tobacco look downright honest by comparison.

Ms. Ballard, if you turned even one smoker away from trying an e-cigarette with your misleading statements in this article, you've caused harm to a fellow human being. How can you live with that?
Good Luck

San Antonio, TX

#5 Jan 11, 2011
To all those trying to quit. After 15 years I did it. It's hard but not as tough as you think. I read the Easy Way to Quit Smoking and seriously quit cold turkey. I'd strongly recommend you try it as well. The other alternatives aren't really dealing with the physical addiction, since they are still putting nicotine in your body.

Rayong, Thailand

#6 Jan 11, 2011
just another way big goverment will stop e-cigarettes. its all about who get paid off
Sandy Cohen

Boca Raton, FL

#7 Jan 11, 2011
A child can put patches all over them or eat tobacco,snuff,chew nicreette gum,and kill themself just the same allso....nothing in life is 100% safe.and I think taking a cigarette out of a pack of cigarettes would be most kids way of getting to smoke...most kids arent going to spend 40 80 or 100 to buy an e-cig.

“In the Desert”

Since: May 08

New York City

#8 Jan 11, 2011
Just follow the money and 2 things will happen. The tobacco industry is going to buy the e-cig industry and hides it. Or they come up with their own brand.

I also smoke the e-cig. I got them from I never looked back. I love it. I love not having the smell of smoke on me

So, thats my opinion.. I hope they keep it going. The tobacco lobbyist are going to have a hard time with that one.

Dallas, TX

#9 Jan 12, 2011
I have one point to bring up, Ms. Ballard claimed that the E-Cig. is a tobacco product. Which part of the tobacco leaf is used? I am only asking for clarification, because if it is a synthetic form of nicotine and water, than it is not at all a tobacco product, but a nicotine delivery device. On the other hand, if it is nicotine taken from the tobacco leaf and no other part is used...yup still just a nicotine delivery device, that mimics the feel and habit of smoking with out the smoke and fire.
Look, I can tell that Ms. Ballard doesn't want kids to think that they are safe and cool, but smokers need a way to quit that works! She might not get it that we need something better than the gum, or patch, or other useless approved product. I know protecting children is important, and I know she wants to protect us, but leave us the choice.
By the way Treece, fantastic post!

“ keep the loonies on the path.”

Since: Aug 10


#10 Jan 12, 2011
If you want to quit, then quit! I read about all those people with their supposedly high addictions and chuckled. I was smoking three packs of little cigars a day, for three years after smoking 2 packs a day of marlboros for 25 years, and on July 22 I put on the FREE patch and never lit another smoke again. Try it first! It is free and it works!
ECigs rock

Albuquerque, NM

#11 Jan 12, 2011
I was a smoker who tried to quit cold turkey, with the aid of gum, and with patches, none worked. I had smoked for 37 years. I have very bad nerves, and have always had violent tendencies. Smoking always curbed the violence for me, but I found the ecig. I have been smoking it for 7 months now, and do not crave "real" cigarettes. I have no intention of quitting my nicotine completely; I love my nicotine and how it keeps my nerves in check. I believe that my choice of a healthier way to "smoke" is a fantastic alternative! It also happens to be a lot cheaper on a monthly basis, once the initial purchases. The site I buy from is ecigexpress and it was started by a doctor.
Social Butterfly

Las Cruces, NM

#12 Jan 12, 2011
I dont mind if people smoke but i do care if they smoke around me. I love that you can still enjoy someones company who uses e-cigs without having to go outside or stop the conversation. I love that there is no smell or smoke that second hand people endure. Way to go MIKE!!!

“Irony, metaphor, film @ eleven”

Since: Feb 08

Old Mesilla/New Las Cruces

#13 Jan 12, 2011
She smell of cigarettes is just nasty.
And the cheap & cheaper cigarettes is simply the pits. It is really a rancid ugly smell.

It comes in with the smokers (who have been outside smoking) and they still stink for a good while after.
Then they go smoke another one and another one.

I am so proud of successful non smokers. It's hard.
But you have to keep on trying and work for your success.

I smoked for 37 years, quit three years ago and am 100% faithful to never smoking again. Ever. Stopping smoking was the 2nd best thing I've ever done. I recommend the heck out of it.

I am hopeful for all smokers to kick the butt if they want to. You['d be so proud of yourselves!
e bureaucrat

Glendale, AZ

#15 Jan 12, 2011
Hopefully 'e' can come up with a e-bureaucrat alternative to help stop the spending.

Montréal, Canada

#16 Jan 12, 2011
I purchased an e-cigarette, and its terrific. I can smoke my e-cig indoors, and I don't have a smoky smell lingering on my clothes anymore. If you're a current smoke, I highly recommend making the switch. E-Cig refills are also much cheaper than the cost of a pack of cigs here, so I'm saving money.

For good reviews and information about e-cigs, I suggest taking a look here:
just candid


#17 Jan 12, 2011
E-cigs can't be good for you, but at least smokers don't get tobacco tars bilding up in there. Such tobacco tars seem to be what causes many health problems. They also don't give out second hand smoke, don't cause fires, or add litter to our streets. Overall as far as non-smokers go, it sure seems better then having people smoke regular cigarettes. As a non smoker, unless it turnes out their use harmes me or other nons, I have no problem with others using them.

Medford, NJ

#18 Jan 12, 2011
just candid wrote:
E-cigs can't be good for you, but at least smokers don't get tobacco tars bilding up in there. Such tobacco tars seem to be what causes many health problems. They also don't give out second hand smoke, don't cause fires, or add litter to our streets. Overall as far as non-smokers go, it sure seems better then having people smoke regular cigarettes. As a non smoker, unless it turnes out their use harmes me or other nons, I have no problem with others using them.
All indications are that a lifetime e-cig user (except for pregnant women) will face similar health effects as as a lifetime caffeine addict. If you keep your heart in good shape by exercising, the nicotine will not do much harm.
Elaine Keller

Gaithersburg, MD

#19 Jan 12, 2011
The untold story behind the “safe and effective” FDA-approved smoking cessation treatments is that the ones that are safe are not effective, and the ones that are a little more effective are not so safe.

All of the approved treatments require the patient to give up all use of nicotine. When treatment ends, relapse begins. Success rates for nicotine replacement products, when used as directed, are 7% at 6 months, dropping to 5% at 1 year, and then to 2% at 20 months.* Users of Zyban and Chantix have experienced serious side effects such as severe depression and suicide. Acts of violence have been triggered by Chantix.**

The cycle of “smoke, get treatment, quit, then relapse” keeps revenue flowing into tobacco companies as well as to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the approved smoking cessation treatments. The pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco settlement funds provide financial support for organizations for the most outspoken opponents of electronic cigarettes such as the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, and Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.

What’s the real story about effectiveness of the products? They are not intended to be a “smoking cessation”(i.e.“nicotine cessation”) treatment. E-cigarettes provide smokers with an acceptable alternative that does not deliver tar, particles of soot, carbon monoxide, and the thousands of dangerous chemicals created by the process of combustion. This probably explains why over 90% of consumers report that their health has improved. Up to 80% of users have made a complete switch from smoke to vapor.

* Moore D, Aveyard P, Connock, M, Wang D, Fry-Smith A, Barton P: Effectiveness and safety of nicotine replacement therapy assisted reduction to stop smoking: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 338:b1024 2009

Antigo, WI

#20 Jan 12, 2011
Ms. Ballard trots out the tried and true “slight of hand” prohibitionist tactics with e-cigarettes. "They are not a safe alternative." True at the most basic level, but this misleads people into thinking that they are not a SAFER alternative. This is dangerous, as it encourages committed nicotine users to keep smoking, rather than switch to a non-toxic alternative.

Have "not been tested or monitored by the Food and Drug Administration, and therefore its health effects, both long-term and short-term, are unknown." Two different issues made to seem related. The FDA could already be monitoring these products for production and disclosures if they would acknowledge that the vast majority of e-cigarette users use them as an alternative and not a smoking cessation device. Additionally, she admits in another quote that the FDA HAS tested 2 brands in their "study." What Ms. Ballard doesn't reveal is that the FDA did NOT find toxic levels of ANY chemical nor hazardous levels of nitrosamines (carcinogens.) The deceptive "antifreeze" claim has been debunked already. The FDA found approx. 1% in ONE cartridge they tested. That is neither a toxic amount nor has diethylene glycol been found in numerous other tests. Finding 1% in ONE cartridge does not justify the implication that ALL e-cigarettes contain this substance. Additionally, there are now several U.S. labs providing USP-grade propylene glycol for U.S. e-cigarette merchants. If their products are found to contain diethylene glycol as well, there are larger issues to be concerned about as propylene glycol is an ingredient found in thousands of U.S. foods, cosmetics and medicines.

E-cigarettes have been on the market for 3 years now without any reports on the FDA MedWatch of serious adverse reactions. Compare that to the FDA-approved Chantix, which has so far been linked to nearly 100 deaths and even more adverse reactions. Obviously, THAT product under the FDA's care was not shown to be dangerous until it was released to the unsuspecting public. E-cigarettes already have a much better record on the public market. Short term, they have already proven to be effective and low risk. Long term, numerous tests and studies have shown that the low nitrosamines and lack of any toxins give every reason to believe that these products are a much better alternative for smokers who do not wish to quit - which is about 20% of the U.S. population.

"The main point is that these are safe, medically tested methods of quitting smoking," she said. "That cannot be said about e-cigarettes." What was that again? Safe? See above Chantix. Proven? Not remotely. FDA-approved cessation products have a 7% success rate after 12 months. That is a 93% FAILURE rate. Surveys of e-cigarette users show that 65% to 80% have been able to successfully switch to e-cigarettes and remain off tobacco cigarettes. They still use nicotine, but the most important factor is that they are no longer exposing themselves to the thousands of toxins and dozens of carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Her idea that ANY pharmaceutical product can relieve the hand/mouth habit for smokers shows her complete ignorance of the behaviors and needs of real smokers.

The reason that these are not "drug delivery devices" is because they are not meant to treat or mitigate any disease. Their very nature (to provide users with recreational nicotine) means that they DON'T treat nicotine addiction. Even though they may help people quit the ACT of smoking, they are no more a drug delivery device than smokeless tobacco - which is also 99% SAFER than smoking and allows people an effective alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes do not claim to treat nicotine addiction and should not be treated like the drugs which make those claims.

Antigo, WI

#21 Jan 12, 2011
In 3 years on the market, no one has been hurt by e-cigarette use. Smokers are finding e-cigarettes to be a viable alternative to smoking. Substituting smoking with smokeless nicotine reduces health risks 98-99%. Smoking cessation products expect smokers to quit nicotine altogether and have a 93% failure rate - which means that those people return to smoking.

How can Ms. Ballard even suggest that smokers would be better off avoiding e-cigarettes and sticking to "proven" products?? The evidence simply doesn’t support her argument in the slightest.

Go to for the truth about smokeless alternatives.

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