Electronic cigarettes grow in popularity, effects unknown - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Electronic cigarettes grow in popularity, effects unknown

TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Have you been noticing people puffing away inside restaurants and bars? You may be outraged, thinking they're smoking cigarettes near your table, but you wouldn't entirely be correct. Electronic cigarettes are quickly growing in popularity.

E-cigarette lovers said the main difference between a normal cigarette and an electronic one is that the e-cigarette emits water vapor, not smoke. But we wanted to know - does that make it safe?

"I don't want to die of cancer," said Alexis Fox, who was buying her first electronic cigarette at Synergy Vapor Labs in Tempe. The owner of the store, Lee Phemister, said that's the No. 1 reason people walk in to buy his products.

"I guess the habit of putting something in your mouth and exhaling something, it tricks your mind and body into thinking you're still smoking," Phemister said.

Isn't he, though? After all, Phemister is still inhaling nicotine. But so-called e-cigarettes work differently. The battery heats a coil inside the electronic cigarette, which turns a flavoring agent with nicotine into a vapor.

"Pretty much everyone I know uses it," Fox said. And a recent CDC study would support that. It said not only do more adults know about the electronic cigarettes, but more people are also using them. And that might not be a good thing.

"Unfortunately we do not have much data available regarding this product. It is not regulated by the FDA," said Dr. Syed Shahryay, a pulmonologist at St. Luke's Medical Center. He said on the surface, electronic cigarettes appear to be a safer alternative, but he said not smoking anything is always best.

"There may be a potential that it may help people who are trying to quit smoking, but we do not have a lot of data in this regards to support this," he said.

Phemister said while he agrees more research needs to be done, he's happy he said goodbye to his pack-and-a-half-a-day habit.
 
"The fact of the matter is we're human and we have vices," Phemister said.

You may wonder whether people can still smoke the e-cigarettes indoors. Phemister said it's up to each business since the laws don't address electronic cigarettes yet.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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