E-cig testimonials

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A story in yesterday s New York Postturns attention to the increasingly popular electronic cigarette. These clean nicotine delivery devices are designed to mimic the look and feel of conventional cigarettes without delivering any of the carcinogenic by-products of combustion and they re catching on with smokers who would like to quit. While the FDA regulates e-cigarettes only as tobacco products, not as medical devices, positive testimonies from smokers who have used them to quit are accumulating.

Post reporter Dana Schuster interviewed a number of people who are using e-cigarettes as a way to cut down on the number of daily cigarettes they smoke or to move toward quitting the habit altogether. The real attraction of the e-cigarette as a smoking cessation device is its mimicry of smoking a cigarette, which can be one of the toughest aspects for a smoker to relinquish as those interviewed attest.

However, the Post story also raises questions about the chemicals delivered by e-cigarettes, as well as their overall benefits. As Schuster tells it, The FDA has already found samples of two brands of e-cigarettes to contain the same toxic chemical used in antifreeze, as well as carcinogens. ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom says that this claim is intentionally misleading. This is a scare tactic to convince people that the chemical in question, propylene glycol, is antifreeze, and therefore toxic, he says. However, propylene glycol, despite being a component of antifreeze, is essentially non-toxic; it is converted into lactic acid and pyruvic acid in the body normal products of carbohydrate metabolism. Ethylene glycol, on the other hand, is the major component of antifreeze, and it is toxic. But it s not being used in e-cigarettes.

And as for Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, director of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation Program at NYU s Langone Medical Center, who describes himself as very much against e-cigarettes? ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross is exasperated with this stance. No one familiar with the concept of relative risk, who is able to compare the undeniable harm of cigarettes to the low health risks of e-cigarettes, would be against this device, he says. The e-cigarette is for smokers who want to quit but can t.

Nick Molina, the CEO of an e-cigarette brand called South Beach Smoke confirms Dr. Ross s observation: he says his company s most typical customer is someone who wants to quit smoking, followed by those who need to cut back. If the people interviewed by The Post are any indication, that s what the e-cigarette is being used for.