If you're a smoker trying to kick the habit, you may be intrigued by e-cigarettes. These electronic devices have helped millions of users to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. They get their nicotine fix, but avoid the deadly toxins. Are e-cigarettes safe?
Electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, are battery operated nicotine-delivery devices. They contain a liquid laced with nicotine that vaporizes when heated. The vapor can be inhaled, simulating the effect and the experience of smoking. E-cigarettes are used by millions throughout the world as an alternative to smoking.
"Nicotine is highly addictive and it does not do your body good. But there are pros to getting away from the burning combustibles that are on fire when you light a cigarette," said Valerie Frey-McClung, Assoc. Director, WVU Prevention Research Center. "So I kind of understand the reasons behind moving towards an e-cigarette but unfortunately these are unregulated devices so we need some more research to substantiate some of the claims and determine their safety."
It's not been clinically proven that e-cigarettes are an effective way to stop smoking. More research is needed. Meantime, some experts fear they'll entice kids to start smoking.
"These e-cigarettes are available. They're all over the internet, advertisements left and right. They're available at malls, so protecting our youth and children from these unproven devices has merit," said Dr. Frey-McClung.
Smokers who have tried and failed to quit aren't addicted to smoking, they're addicted to nicotine, according to Dr. Rolly Sullivan from WVU's School of Medicine. "That's why e-cigarettes are appealing. But until there's more research, it remains to be seen exactly how safe, or unsafe, they are," said Dr. Sullivan.