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What are Electronic Cigarettes?

Electronic Cigarettes or E-Cigarettes: Are they a harmless smoking alternative or dangerous products and a harmful gateway to addiction?

Fun flavors, celebrity endorsements, therapeutic claims and virtually no regulation laws, have set the stage for e-cigarette sales to already reach the two billion dollar mark since it's 2007 market introduction.

So what exactly are e-cigarettes? The product was developed by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik as a less toxic way to deliver nicotine as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. It mimics the actions of a conventional cigarette by heating up a liquid solution typically made up of propylene glycol, nicotine, water and other flavors, which the user then inhales as a vapor.

The Risks of Vaping

The nation's largest tobacco companies are in the e-cigarette business. While Tobacco Companies claim e-cigarettes are safe and can even help smokers to quit, many experts are not agreeing. "To date, there's been no evidence submitted to the FDA to support the claim that they help people quit smoking and when you look at the large population studies, which follow people over time and compare quitting behavior among people who use these e-cigarettes and don't, what that shows is that people who use e-cigarettes are actually less likely to quit smoking, then people who don't."

University of California, San Francisco, Professor of Medicine, Dr. Stanton Glantz serves as the University's Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. He believes that while e-cigarettes are certainly less toxic, they do not aide in smoking cessation. Instead, they create dual-users, or people who smoke both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes.

Some of those dual-smokers are minors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2011 and 2012, e-cigarette experimentation more than doubled among middle and high school students. And a recent statistic estimates that almost 2 million high school students have tried e-cigarettes.

While the FDA has proposed to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and will require manufacturers to put health warnings on the devices, many public health advocates say it's not enough and not soon enough. The CDC believes it is critical that regulations are developed to limit the marketing of e-cigarettes to youth.

According to Dr. Glantz, the tobacco industry has reverted back to old marketing tactics that target kids. "Oh there's to me no question that the marketing for e-cigarettes is targeting kids and it ya know, again, it's like getting in a time machine because back when we were fighting about the Joe Camel cartoon character and all the stuff focused on kids, the e-cigarette or the cigarette companies are saying "No No No this is targeted to adult choice." And the most ridiculous thing I recently heard is where they were saying well no gummy bear flavored e-cigarettes are really directed at a middle aged smoker who wants to quit smoking. I mean it's just on its face ridiculous."

While it may take many more years before we have hard data on the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, many aren't so quick to believe the e-cigarette company's claims that their products use harmless water vapor. "That to me is one of the most important things consumers need to understand is that these, these products are exposing you to a variety of toxic chemicals again, not as much as a cigarette but that's like saying jumping out of something lower than the 50th story of a building is better than jumping out of the 50th story. Ya know, you're still breathing in ultra fine particles, nicotine and god knows what else."

Dr. Glantz also mentioned that until e-cigarettes are regulated, users will have no way of knowing exactly what toxins they are being exposed to and that includes the effects it could have with second-hand vapors.

Sounds like a very strong case for the FDA to step in now and include restrictions on its rule for e-cigarettes.

I'm Ken Moll for Legal News Network -- your source for safety information.

For free consumer safety information and case updates, visit us at ‪legalnewsnetwork.com‬‬‬

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