Like E-Cigs? Here's What You Should Know

Thinking e-cigarettes are a safer way to get your nicotine fix?  Think again.

According to Lenny Bernstein at The Washington Post, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to regulate e-cigarettes, which have quickly grown into a $2 billion a year enterprise. 

Purveyors call it "vaping" to describe the nicotine blast they get from the flavored vapor that comes out of an e-cig as it's "burning."  But Bernstein points to some things you should know about these not-so-healthy smoking sticks.

Most consist of  a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge that contains nicotine or other chemicals and an atomizer that, when heated, converts the liquid in the cartridge into a vapor, he reports. This vapor is inhaled. Nicotine concentrations vary depending on the user’s preference.

On the plus side, e-cig manufacturers claim that they are significantly less expensive than tobacco cigarettes, which are heavily taxed, Bernstein writes.

On the not-so-plus side, "Right now, makers of e-cig products don’t have to disclose their ingredients. A UC San Francisco researcher claims that 10 chemicals on California’s annual list of known carcinogens can be found in e-cig vapor, including benzene, formaldehyde, lead and toluene. The liquids come in flavors such as watermelon and bubblegum," according to Bernstein.

A Syracuse hospital banned the devices after a patient using oxygen caught fire while smoking an e-cigarette. The FDA has reported four fires connected to the devices.
The percentage of U.S. high school students who have tried vaping doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten percent say they’ve tried an e-cigarette.
But here's, to me, the most distressing thing of all.  Because of the flavors, children have been ingesting the liquid -- and being poisoned.  Though e-cigs comprise less than 2 percent of all tobacco-related sales, they now account for more than 40 percent of poison center calls, Neha Sharma, DO, notes at abcnews.com.  More than half of the calls involved children younger than 5 years old.

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