Is That Right? E-cigarettes are “the healthier alternative to smoking”?

The other day an ad for the SmartSmoker electronic cigarette landed in my inbox. Its text, which surrounded an image of a glamorous woman savoring a smoke, called the e-cigarette “a smart New Year’s resolution” and declared the product “the healthier alternative to smoking.”

My first thought was that just about anything would be healthier (or, as I prefer, “more healthful”) than smoking. And this e-cigarette, a battery-powered, plastic cigarette replica that allows you to inhale a nicotine vapor, sans tar and burnt matter, sounds like kind of a good idea.

But being safer than a marlboro cigarettes, if in fact this e-smoke is, doesn’t equal being safe.

Made mostly in China and available freely to people of all ages via the Internet, e-cigarettes appear to be gaining in popularity. Some health experts worry that we don’t know the consequences of inhaling lots of vaporized nicotine (a process known as “vaping”). And that e-cigs may entice young people to try cigarettes kent. And that using them might not help smokers cease smoking, but might just help see them through rough moments at restaurants and on airplanes, tiding them over until they can get back to their Camels. For those and other reasons, the American Cancer Society does not support their use.

The FDA doesn’t yet regulate e-cigarettes (though it’s given its blessing to nicotine gum and patches to help smokers quit), but has begun to look into them. A federal judge is expected to rule any day now as to whether the agency in fact has jurisdiction over the products.

In the meantime, I think a smarter New Year’s resolution would be to hold off the e-cigs until we know more.

What’s your opinion of e-cigarettes? Have you tried them? Do they seem safe to you?


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