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Electronic cigarettes: beneficial or bad for your health?
JEFFERSON COUNTY- by Haley Bull
Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity and sparking controversy. Some users say they're beneficial, while some health professionals say they're concerned over the safety of using them.
They're designed to look like a cigarette, delivering a mist of flavorings and sometimes nicotine.
"For one it doesn't stink up the house and it's just the flavor," JP Kelly said.
"You don't have any withdrawals and it's clean, and there's just the vapors," John Shepley said.
The vapors are rapidly growing in popularity.
"They're getting popular right now and everybody was asking for this electronic cigarette," Nederland Quick Stop Manager Lee Surani said.
The rise in popularity is why Surani said the store started selling electronic cigarettes about three months ago. Now, they offer 150 different flavors of the product.
"To my experience I have seen a lot of people here that smoked for years and once they switch to this product they have at least slowed down on their regular cigarettes now," Surani said.
Kelly and Shepley are two customers who said they used to smoke.
"I smoke a lot less cigarettes now, this is helping me cut back," Kelly said.
Both switched to e-cigarettes.
"I haven't wanted a cigarette," Shepley said.
"It's just to me more pure. I mean you're getting the nicotine but you're not getting all the excess stuff that they put in the tobacco," Kelly said.
The ingredients in the vapor are raising concerns for some health professionals.
"They're saying well this is a good thing, it's safe, this is healthy you know, more natural. You have to consider the fact that arsenic is also natural," Irene Aydelott, an oncology nurse educator at Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Cancer Center, said. She said there are too many unknowns about the products.
"It's not just this innocent vapor that's in the air," Aydelott said. "We do know that there are more tests, more studies that need to be run."
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, only e-cigarettes marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated.
"You have no idea what other additives are in it. It isn't just nicotine, although nicotine itself isn't safe. We know nicotine is dangerous. But people are using these products thinking well at least I'm getting something that's less toxic, that's healthier for me," Aydelott said. "There is no good healthy form of using this."
But that's not enough to stop this growing trend.
A congressional report released April 14th finds some e-cigarette companies are marketing to minors and recommends regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.