Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

By: Cameron Taylor Email
By: Cameron Taylor Email

Electronic cigarettes are quickly becoming the new thing to try if you want to quit smoking. About one in five smokers have tried an e-cigarette before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical experts are still unsure how safe this smoking alternative is for your health.

Electronic cigarettes have been in the United States for a few years now and were introduced as a smoking alternative, but what makes them different from most alternatives you can buy is that they aren't labeled with any ingredients.

This is leaving many medical experts to question what exactly is inside them and if it's good for you.

They're popping up at gas stations, shopping plazas and on the internet.

Electronic cigarettes are quickly becoming the go to thing if you're looking to quit smoking.

Those who have tried electronic cigarettes say they're just like the real thing.

"I think it's the hit you get from the e-cig. It feels just like you're smoking a cigarette. I mean just like it. There's no difference what so ever, but it tastes better," said former smoker, Bethany King.

Bethany King was smoking about 2 packs a day. She quit smoking last January as a new years resolution for health reasons and says no other alternatives have compared.

"I've tried everything. I've tried Chantix. I've tried just about everything I could. Really I just didn't want to quit but I knew I needed to," said King.

Store owners like Lori Switala of Smokin Vapor say there's a good reason e-cigarettes are more effective.

"We like smoking so much that none of those other things are going to work. You're not holding something in your hand," said Switala.

While they're not listed on the packaging, Switala and others claim e-cigarettes only have four ingredients: nicotine, food flavoring, vegetable glycerin which is similar to vegetable oil, and propylene glycol which is an ingredient in many sodas.

Advocates for electronic cigarettes say they don't create any health problems, but doctors say they're not sure if they're completely safe.

"It does help mitigate the damage from a cigarette and it's probably going to end up being a better option than a cigarette. Is it totally safe? Well we don't know all of that information just yet," said Dr. Tony McKenzie with The Lung and Sleep Center.

Dr. Tony Mckenzie says a regular cigarette has thousands of cancer causing chemicals, but e-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so there's some concern about what chemicals are inside them.

"That's the big issue now is what's in the e-cigarette. The e-cigarette is not FDA approved and that's what they're going by to try to see what's inside of it," said Dr. McKenzie.

Other concerns the FDA has are how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled.

Despite the questions, former smokers like Bethany King, say the e-cigarette is their saving grace.

"All of the additives and stuff in the tobacco. The chemicals when I did stop smoking, I could tell my body was going through withdrawals from that and i just felt a lot better. I breathe a lot easier. It's just i feel so much better," said King.

E-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so their long term effects are not clear at this point and e-cigarettes do not have an age requirement since they are not FDA approved.

Because of that, the FDA is concerned that e-cigarettes could lead to nicotine addiction among children.

While e-cigarettes do not have an age requirement to buy them, Smokin Vapor chooses not to sell them to anyone under 18.


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