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E-Cigarettes: Safer Way To Light Up?

Smokers all over the country are trading in their traditional cigarettes for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. But with no in-depth health studies on the effects of this new fad, community members want to know are they dangerous? Eyewitness News speaks with advocates and opponents of these battery powered cigarettes.
Smokers all over the country are trading in their traditional cigarettes for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. But with no in-depth health studies on the effects of this new fad, community members want to know are they dangerous? Eyewitness News speaks with advocates and opponents of these battery powered cigarettes.

Manufacturers claim e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes that can help smokers cut down on tobacco use, but some experts have concerns that e-cigs may cause more harm than help.

Eileen Gleason is a tobacco cessation coordinator. She says the biggest problem with e-cigs is they're not FDA approved.

"People need to remember these are unregulated. They are imported. And no one really knows the long term effects of them because we are just getting data of what's in them," says Eileen Gleason, tobacco cessation coordinator at Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare.

The FDA has not yet evaluated e-cigarettes for safety or effectiveness. According to their website, when FDA conducted limited laboratory studies of certain samples, they found significant quality issues that showed processes used to make these products were substandard or non-existent.

"They're several manufacturers and they all contain different ingredients, so you'll have different levels of other chemicals, different levels of nicotine so they're not really a good device to be using," says Gleason.

We spoke with manufacturer, Unique Cigs Incorporated, who owns several stores throughout New York. The general manager says his products are safe. But he says it's like buying anything, you have to do your research.

"Our ingredients are on every bottle. Our fluid is made with only U.S. pharmaceutical grade ingredients, made here in America," says Michael Frennier, general manager of Unique Cigs, Inc.

E-cigs are battery operated nicotine inhalers. Frennier says users get their cigarette fix without the byproducts of burning tobacco in traditional cigarettes.

"The same feeling of hand to mouth and inhale and exhale. You're getting your nicotine, and our fluid comes in different strengths of nicotine, and you can also get it with zero nicotine," says Frennier.

"It is not an approved cessation device," says Gleason.

E-cigs come in dozens of colors and flavors. Gleason says they're meant to target the younger generation. We wanted to see for ourselves, so we went to Mohawk Valley Community College to hear what students had to say.

"I see it all the time. People puffing on it, outside of class, and even in class," says Fadel Kaltek, MVCC student.

"I considered switching over, it's better for my health, and better for other peoples health," says Joe LaClaire, MVCC student.

"We only recommend approved cessation devices that are approved by the FDA and are regulated," says Gleason.

Can e-cigarettes help you quit smoking? Until the FDA steps in, it's smokers choice. But as experts say, buyer beware. There are not enough studies out there to show the long-term effects of their use.
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