My name is Doctor Kevin Walton and I work at NIDA and I focus on the identification of new treatments for smoking cessation.
When e-cigarettes came on the scene, we were very excited about their potential to help adult smokers stop using combustible cigarettes, but now that we see that teens are using e-cigarettes we’re very worried about their use and exposure to nicotine and the other chemicals that are in e-cigarettes.
The way an e-cigarette affects the body really depends on what chemicals are in an e-cigarette.
But in general, when a person inhales an e-cigarette, they take in all that aerosol that’s generated from the heating of the e liquid.
And in that liquid are a number of chemicals like propylene glycol and glycerol.
Usually there’s nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance, and then there are flavors which can be any number of hundreds of different chemicals.
There are a lot of studies going on now trying to understand what risks are associated with the chemicals that are in e cigarettes.
And what we’re concerned about is, two questions. One is the acute toxicity, how short-term exposure, what do we have to worry about, and also long-term exposure.
And so, the very basic way that they could affect the body which is that they could be… provide irritation in your throat.
The nicotine is… causes raising of blood pressure and increasing of heart rate. And then there are other longer-term effects of those chemicals and of the nicotine that, for example, addiction to nicotine
And as well, and then the chemicals can have their own long-term toxic effects which are not fully understood, but some of those same chemicals are the ones that we find in regular cigarettes.
As we’re learning more about e cigarettes and we understand more about their potential for adult smokers to stop using combustible cigarettes we feel very excited about that potential.
And we really want to focus efforts on helping smokers of regular cigarettes stop using those.
But we need to spend a lot of time to help understand why teens are using e cigarettes, make sure that they understand the potential risks and get a balance in the years to come to help stop teen use while perhaps supporting these adults.