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The ABCs of E-Cigarettes: July 9, 2013

Welcome to what may be the future of smoking -electronic cigarettes. Instead of burning nicotine, users vaporize it instead.

“I know what is in a cigarette, and I try to say maybe this is better. I hope. I feel better, so maybe it is better,” says James Didio, an e-cigarette user.

Health experts are having a similar reaction. Some studies show that the battery-powered e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional smokes, but doctors stop short of issuing an endorsement.

“They’re not adequately studied for us to give a medical opinion,” says pulmonologist Dr. Sunil Pammi with Lee Memorial Health System.

E-cigarettes are not regulated, although the FDA has requested information on them. A typical cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals. The electronic version is thought to have far fewer chemicals and carcinogens. However, no one really knows what is in an e-cigarette, because manufacturers don’t have to tell.

“You’re not sure where the chemicals are coming from, but they do contain chemicals. They’re oil-based and contain nicotine in them. When you go to the store and you buy a patch, it says 14 mg of nicotine per patch. That’s what you’re getting. It is regulated, it is monitored and it is carefully manufactured,” says Pammi.

Unlike nicotine patches and gum, which are designed to wean people from smoking, e-cigarettes have no stated purpose.

“Well, interestingly, I think a lot of people have the intention of using the e-cigarette as a replacement for a cigarette,” says Pammi.

“Every time I try and put it down, and not have it for a day, I end up picking it back up. Maybe out of force of habit,” says Didio.

By keeping hand motions intact and getting a hit of nicotine, people may be less inclined to kick the habit once and for all.