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Are e-cigarettes safe?

What looks like a cigarette, glows like a cigarette, contains nicotine like a cigarette but is not a cigarette? It’s an e-cigarette or e-cig for short. This new import from China is literally selling like hotcakes because the manufacturers claim that it is safe, and does not contain any of the toxic chemicals such as tar found in your Camels or Virginia Slims. What it contains is pure nicotine.

According the official “electronic smoking” website, e-cig is the healthiest alternative to cigarettes you will ever get. It works similarly like a nicotine patch but it works better because the smokers get the oral fixation. In a CNN article, the CEO of Smoking Everywhere, one of the leading e-cig distributors, was quoted as saying that e-cigs do not contain ingredients that can cause cancer. There are however, a lot of uncertainties about this new product. The US FDA has declared the e-cig to an unapproved product whose safety cannot be determined. However, the CNN article criticized the regulatory body for being “hazy” about the issue because also the FDA is trying to stop e-cig importation, it is not seizing products that are already in the US.

What concerns me about the product is that its claims of safety which is not proven and tested might mislead young women who are smokers and pregnant. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a lot of infant health problems. The effects of e-cig on the unborn child, however, are not known. Other groups are also concerned that e-cig contains a high dose of pure nicotine that is potentially lethal when ingested by children. In addition, it puts to test the age limit some countries have placed on cigarette purchase and possession.

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