You may have seen them in malls, in advertisements, or in stores. E cigarettes are the latest trend in tobacco products.
What Are E Cigarettes?
E cigarettes are battery-powered tubes that look like real cigarettes. But instead of inhaling and getting a lungful of tobacco smoke, you basically suck in vaporized nicotine.
According to companies that make e cigarettes, since there's no tobacco smoke, there are also none of the toxic ingredients that come with it, like tar and other cancer causing chemicals found in cigarettes.
Instead, with e cigarettes you just get nicotine. E cigarette makers claim it's similar to wearing a nicotine patch.
Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?
Many health researchers are dubious, though. A 2009 FDA study of e cigarettes found trace amounts of diethylene glycol a solvent linked to kidney failure.
And some experts worry that because e cigarettes are marketed as being clean and safe, they may attract young non smokers and lead them down the road to nicotine addiction.
Meeting Safety Standards
To be fair, the point is not that e cigarettes are necessarily a health hazard. Maybe they are, and maybe they're not. We simply don't know. Which is why many health experts are calling for e cigarettes to be regulated like drugs and required to meet federal safety standards.
Until that happens, trusting that e cigarettes are harmless means relying on the word of the companies that make and sell them.