Buying Cigarettes
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Medical Myth: Are e-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes?

Dr. Michael Cummings, a tobacco researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center, says e-cigarettes could be an effective product to help people quit smoking, but the research hasn't proven the product's safety or efficacy.

"It could absolutely be a tool (to quit), but I think we need good studies to evaluate the claims," says Dr. Cummings, noting that current products such as nicotine patches, gums and lozenges have relatively low quit rates.

Dr. Cummings adds that the effectiveness of e-cigarettes is inhalation - the most efficient form of delivering a drug to the brain. It's the same reason smoking is so addictive, whether it's nicotine or other drugs.

Dr. Cummings and other health advocates are worried about the unknowns of e-cigarettes. Earlier tests by the FDA, he says, found chemicals similar to those used in car washes. He also is worried about the metal tubings, which potentially could contain lead. The metal could leach into the inhaled vapor and be dangerous for the smoker and bystanders.

"(E-cigarettes are) clearly less dangerous than smoking a cigarette because you can hardly get more dangerous than smoking cigarettes".

Published: Monday, December 31, 2012

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