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E-cigarettes unsafe?

E-cigarettes continue to be debated
E-cigarettes continue to be debated
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While the debate rages on, tests are emerging to prove electronic cigarettes are not safe. The question is, are electronic-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes?

What are electronic cigarettes
An electronic cigarette also known as E-cigarette or vaporizer is a cylinder with a battery-operated heater that contains a liquid cartridge. When heated, it creates a vapor. The user inhales and exhales the vapor which quickly dissipates.

The cartridge may contain synthetic nicotine or without nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), flavor and other chemicals. Propylene glycol is found in cosmetics, toiletries and approved for use as a food additive. In fact, chemicals in e-cigarettes are in many of approved items you ingest or used in cosmetics as well as found in regular cigarettes.

The American Lung Association says when regular cigarettes burn, at least 69 of the 7,000 chemicals created are known to cause cancer.

FDA ruling
FDA proposes to extend authorities beyond the current tobacco products to include products like e-cigarettes.

Without federal law ruling, states are taking action to regulate these devices.

Alabama law
Alabama defined e-cigarettes as “alternative nicotine product”, not grouping them with tobacco but law does prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The e-cigarette industry itself favors restrictions.

Health concerns
Some Health organizations fear e-cigarettes with their varied flavors may entice children to start smoking. They also feel it is easier to regulate if categorized the same as regular cigarettes.

Initial tests show harmful results, the tests do not show how e-cigarettes compare with regular cigarettes.

There are many different types of e-cigarettes and not all contain the same chemicals or made the same way. Shall tests be performed on all makes?

Michael Siegel, MD, a professor in the department of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health answers Department of Health and Human Services concerns about the unknown amount of nicotine emitted with each puff and a gateway device for youth to try other tobacco products.

Dr. Siegel says it is irresponsible to tell a smoker to continue to smoke rather than switch to e-cigarettes because the measure of nicotine discharged is inconsistent.

Dr. Siegel feels since e-cigarettes are not cessation devices, the amount of nicotine is not a “ … particular concern” and there is confirmation that many smokers have been able to quit using these devices. He does not see evidence to believe that youth will use e-cigarettes as a gateway to cigarette smoking.

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