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E-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit
The latest tool to help smokers kick the habit is the electronic cigarette, and so far, their sale is largely unregulated -- but that could change.
Dorothy Reno describes herself as a part-time smoker. But that's not a tobacco cigarette in her hand - it's an electronic-cigarette.
Honestly something just pleasant about smoking the e-cigarette. It's a little bit of cross between incense and being in a wet sauna.
The battery powered device gives a nicotine buzz from a vapor...It doesn't have the tobacco tar found in traditional cigarettes.
It's the latest in nicotine replacement products - joining the patch and gum but e-cigarettes are much cheaper and because they are unregulated. They can be sold and advertised anywhere.
Last year Americans spent 500 million dollars on e-cigarettes. That's a small fraction of what they spend on traditional tobacco cigarettes. But analysts say that number will triple this year - 1.7 billion dollars in sales.
Dorothy Reno said she and her husband, an addicted smoker, did extensive research.
We think the harm is less than with a traditional cigarette. However, obviously there's still some risk there.
Doctors say that risk could be unknown chemicals in the unregulated product- in one test, antifreeze turned up!
E-cigarettes burst on to the US market in 2006 and the federal government is scrambling to catch up.
The FDA is expected to issue regulations soon. And if they classify e-cigarettes in the same category as tobacco, it could mean users will pay significantly higher taxes.
Already, states have taken action. 23 prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors. Several others have legislation pending.
Doctors say there's little second hand risk from e-cigarettes
By the time it goes into someone else lungs and comes out it's mostly just vapor and the amount that you're going to inhale next to somebody is minimal
But some local governments and small businesses have already banned e-cigarettes in public places.
Doctors say until e-cigaretters are regulated, go with the product that's sold behind the counter at a pharmacy...Not on the counter at a convenience store.
My recommendation is always to start with the safe approved and regulated forms of nicotine.