The Truth Behind E-Cigarettes - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

The Truth Behind E-Cigarettes

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(KCEN) -- Electronic cigarettes are everywhere, but are they really as healthy as their smokers tout? Doctors say they don't know yet and now the government is trying to regulate the growing trend.

Vaping is an art for Vanissa Irons. She collects flavors, pairing them with food and drinks. More importantly, she says it helped her kick a habit that 42 million Americans struggle with.

"I would still be smoking cigarettes if it were not for this," Irons said. "I feel like I'm doing a much better thing for my body. Just for the effects I see."

Effects like better breathing and more stamina.

Long-time tobacco addicts are raving about the e-cigarette, but doctors like Medical Oncologist Thomas Harris aren't convinced.

"While it appears to be safer than traditional cigarettes, we do not know for a fact that it is," Harris said. The trend has taken off fast and research is still behind, so a study of the long-term effects could take years.

Flavors vary from watermelon to banana split, but some doctors worry this could attract teenagers to the trend.

"My concern for electronic cigarettes is that it's bridging especially a younger population to traditional cigarettes, which we don't want," Harris said.

The FDA recently outlined a plan to regulate the product.

It would ban selling to minors and require evidence before the industry can claim e-cigarettes are low-risk.

But “Pointe n Tyme Vaping” Manager Gerald Franklin says he's not worried.

“Have the conversations, let's do the studies,” Franklin said. “I'm all about getting the FDA involved."

Tobacco control expert Dr. Michael B. Siegel says regulation is key to answering remaining questions about e-cigarettes.

“The idea of having a product that's unregulated is very scary and understandably cities and towns are concerned,” Siegel said.

Carcinogens are directly involved with causing cancer and tobacco has 60 of them, along with 10,000 chemicals. 

Siegel says electronic cigarettes eliminate almost all of those. 

“If you switch from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes you're greatly reducing your risk for cancer and in particular, lung disease,” Siegel said.


Franklin keeps a list of some of these chemicals in his shop in an effort to convince people to make the switch. 

“We wonder what's causing cancer…this is it,” Franklin said. “It's not the nicotine."


Ingredients like Arsenic, Tar and Acetone.

In electronic cigarettes, the known ingredients are water, optional nicotine and Propylene Glycol. 

Propylene Glycol is a toxic liquid that can be found in de-icing materials, but the FDA labels it, "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. 


In the meantime, enthusiasts say they'll take their chances.

"My physician has already told me she's got a big file of stuff ready for me to read,” Irons said. “We’ll see. It can't be any worse than what I was doing."
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