Local News

Sep 6, 2013 11:57 AM by Janine Reyes

Local E-Cig Sales Booming, But Are They Safe?

CORPUS CHRISTI -- Electronc cigarette sales are booming and there's no shortage of sales here in the Coastal Bend, either.

But, who are they selling to exactly?

The Centers for Disease Control just released a report indicating middle school and high school kids are getting addicted at an alarming rate.

From a distance you may see what looks like a guy is smoking a cigarette in the mall. He's not, he's smoking water vapor from this e-cigarette that he sells.

"Electronic cigarettes give you the same sensation like regular cigarettes, give you the same stimulation which is nicotine, give you the hand to mouth habit, but it doesn't have all the side effects cigarettes does," said Safe Smoke Vendor Ben Danon.

It's true, the e-cigarette does not have the 4000 plus carcinogens found in regular cigarettes, but, there's also no long term study to determine just how safe it is.

"I'm not a doctor, but, it really helps me, it really saves me money, it saves me health, i don't cough as much as I used to," said Danon.

So, we reached out to Pulmonologist, Dr. Salim Surani, who said his concern is the younger generation impacted by the e-cigarette.

He fears starting the 'safer' habit could lead to real cigarettes.

"We are creating a new generation of smokers, which we have been barely able to get rid of the older generations of smokers," Surani said.

He says the e-cigarette still has nicotine and that's the habit that's hardest to break. He helps new patients quit smoking each week, unfortunately, at that point, for some, they're facing one of two options, quit or die.

"I see about two patients with lung cancer every week, and it is amazing to me that once they develop the cancer, they quit next day," Surani said.

Surani says for long term smokers who don't have the motivation to quit cold turkey, the e-cigarette could be a good option, so long as they know when to lower the nicotine dose and they stick to a schedule.

Danon says it can work. Problem is, you may only be replacing one addiction with another.

"Most of our customers do come back or bring their friends," said Danon.

"If you are not smoking, I would say do not touch it," said Surani, "if you are a smoker, and you want to transition into not smoking, it may be a mode of transition."

The e-cigarette is not regulated by the fda, so, surani fears we may not know how much nicotine is in the cartridges.

The FDA plans to start regulating e-cigarettes by the end of the year. Surani also says long term studies are needed to find out just how 'safe' the safer smoke is.

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