Close Look at E-Cigarettes

Jenny McCarthy is the celebrity spokesperson for the leading e-cigarette.

This is an excerpt from her television commercial. "I get to have a Blu without the guilt, because there's only vapor, not tobacco smoke!"

The commercials promote e-cigarettes as a better alternative to smoking. But just what's in them?

Jamie Kopf with Consumer Reports found, "E-cigarettes hold a replaceable cartridge that contains nicotine, solvents, and flavorings. When that's heated up by the battery, it atomizes the solution and creates an inhalable vapor."

Many people have turned to e-cigarettes to help kick their smoking habit.

Nina Weinberg-Doran is an e-cigarette user. She says, "I liked it right away. It had a flavor. It was a low-nicotine. From the day I started using it, I did not smoke another cigarette. It worked, it took away that oral thing, and there's no smell, there's no matches, there's no smell in your hair, your clothes, your car."

While some e-cigarette users actually do quit smoking cigarettes, the numbers are low. In a study conducted last fall, only about seven percent had stopped after six months.

And are e-cigarettes really safe?

Jamie says, "Like in the early days of tobacco cigarettes, it's just not clear yet what the long-term effects of using these products are going to be."

Another concern - many come in enticing flavors with names like Peach Schnapps, Cherry Crush, and Vivid Vanilla. And since e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, they may lead young people to step up to cigarette smoking.

Jamie warns, "Our advice is don't start with e-cigarettes just for fun. And if you're trying to quit smoking, stick with approved and better-studied methods, like nicotine gum, patches, and counseling."

The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of trying to regulate e-cigarettes. In the meantime, some states and cities have banned e-cigarettes in public places where tobacco smoking is also prohibited.

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