E-Cigarettes -- Just How Harmless Are They?

Electronic cigarettes are rapidly becoming a popular alternative for smokers. But, the FDA has yet to release any conclusive reports that the chemicals in their vapor are safe.

Tom Jordan owns Lubbock's Hub City Vapors. They sell electronic alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

He's also an avid user.

"I haven't given up that first cigarette in the morning, but all the other 20 in the day I was smoking, I've given those up," according to Jordan. "It's made a drastic difference in my personal health and how I feel everyday."

E-cigarettes contain no tobacco. Instead, they're powered by "e-juice," a blend of chemicals that includes nicotine.

"The research is still pending on all of the scientific differences," Jordan says. "But what I have been told is that there are 40,00 fewer chemicals in the e-juice than in an inhaled cigarette."

But while they may not contain tobacco, the FDA has yet to release any conclusive reports that prove e-cigs are truly any safer.

"The thing that we've been told is that it's just a harmless water vapor, but I'm not sure if conclusive studies have been done on that," says Kathy Oaks of the American Cancer Society. "Until solid research has been done on that, I think it's just too soon to be able to tell." 

Oaks says that earlier studies on e-cigarettes showed some contained chemicals found in antifreeze.

But, the uncertainty in the substance doesn't seem to faze users like Jordan.

"All smokers I've met realize that any cutback in cigarettes is going to help them. If they can cut down a little bit even just to start, that's a benefit."

Because they're not technically ruled a tobacco product by the FDA, there are no ordinances that ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public in the city of Lubbock. It is up to the discretion of individual business owners if they want to forbid their use.

The city's environmental health department says there are no plans in the works to change the laws regarding e-cigs at this time.

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