KCTV5 Looks Into Dangers Of Electronic Cigarettes 5-19-2011 - KCTV5 News

KCTV5 Looks Into Dangers Of Electronic Cigarettes 5-19-2011

Some smokers have put down their cigarettes, and picked up new electronic cigarettes.
Some are using them to save money, to eliminate secondhand smoke for their families, or simply to help them quit altogether.
KCTV5's Sandra Olivas looked into e-cigarettes to find what hidden dangers may be behind this new variety of smokes.
The e-cigarettes look just like the real thing, but users don’t need a match to light them up. It’s an electronic cigarette. It’s supposed to give users the feeling like they're smoking, and many people who use them think they’re a safe alternative to actually lighting up.
For 30 years, Kansas City, Mo., resident Anita Edwards smoked cigarettes. She was up to a pack a day, but this past Christmas everything changed for her when her daughter Jessy decided to surprise her with a new option to help her quit. She bought her the electronic cigarette system.
“We were at the mall and they gave us samples," Jessy Edwards said. "She tried it, liked it. I liked that didn’t smell. I hated that for her and us to be around her, so decided to pick it up for her.”
The cigarettes come in different colors and flavors. They look like real cigarettes, but the electronic device that runs on rechargeable batteries simulates the act of smoking tobacco and produces a mist instead of smoke. Users can buy the nicotine vials with different amounts of nicotine levels and reduce it over time to help you kick the habit.
“I do like them," Anita Edwards said. "It's hard to get used to them because they're hard and not soft like real cigarette. You still get nicotine through water vapor, but there's no second-hand smoke. That's good since I’m around the grandchildren.”
Both Anita and Jessy Edwards said they believe this is a much better option than traditional cigarettes.
But looks can be deceiving. The Food and Drug Administration has put out a warning about electronic cigarettes after a study found some contained dangerous chemicals used to make antifreeze.
“Part of the substance in electronic cigarettes is ethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze,” said Dr. Michael Liston, a cardiologist at Saint Mary's Medical Center.
Liston said without a long-term study on the effects of e-cigarettes on the body, there’s still not enough information to determine if they’re truly safe.
"Although you smoke e-cigarettes with nicotine, there's not just nicotine in there," Liston said. "There are other substances as well that have not been studied, so it gives a person a false sense of hope to think these are a safer alternative than smoking.”
Liston said if people really want to quit smoking, there are other options that have passed safety tests.
“There are plenty of nicotine patches, Nicorette gum and other medications with studies that show they work,” Liston said.
Anita Edwards said she was aware of the antifreeze compound used in electronic cigarettes when she started using them.
“I heard that, but it’s the lesser of two evils," she said. "It’s that, or 100 chemicals in cigarettes.”
She said over the last couple of months, she has been reducing the amount of nicotine in her electronic cigarette, and by this Christmas, she hopes to cut out the e-cigarette completely for one important reason.
“I have six grandchildren, I want to be around to watch them grow up,” she said.
Other countries such as Canada and Australia have banned electronic cigarettes until more studies can be done.
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