Healthy Living: Health experts, lawmakers question "e-cigarette" safety

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012 | Kafi Drexel | Categories:
While so-called "e-cigarettes" are sometimes seen as a valuable tool to help smokers quit, health experts say they're not without risk. YNN's Kafi Drexel filed the following report. Some longtime smokers believe making the switch to electronic cigarettes is safer than their old multi-pack-a-day habit. "After I started using e-cigarettes I lost my smoker's cough. I didn't have that weight on my chest every time I got out of bed," said e-cigarette user Russ Wishtart. "A heavy smoker knows it is almost impossible to quit. For electronic cigarette users the number of heavy smokers who have quit is astronomical," said e-cigarette user Daniel Karpus Medical experts say while there's no question smoking tobacco is dangerous, there are also dangerous toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes too. "I think that a lot of people who are promoting e-cigarettes say that it is a safer alternative but there is no evidence to suggest that it is," said Dr. Jonathan Whiteson of NYU Langone Medical Center. "As of now, we see it as delivering pure nicotine which is a dangerous drug in itself and it can cause people to become addicted to nicotine. So this is not a product sold to help people come away from cigarettes. It is a product that is sold to addict people to nicotine." In fact, former smokers who spoke with YNN have been puffing on e-cigarettes for more than a year. Some see that as simply replacing one harmful addiction with another. And most smoking cessation tools are meant for short term use only. So far, the FDA has been unsuccessful at regulating the products. State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal tried to push a bill, which stalled, that would stop the sale of them in New York. She plans on introducing new legislation to at least make sure they don't wind up in the hands of kids. "My feeling is until we know that it is safe, it probably should not be marketed or sold to adults," said Rosenthal. "However, seeing that this is the FDA's province to decide that, my obligation as a state representative is to protect the minors and make sure they do not get a hold of them and start smoking them." Adult users who spoke with YNN say they obviously don't want kids picking up the devices but still plan to fight for their right to keep lighting up.
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