E-Cigarettes: The Good, The Bad & The Smokey

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — As more cities ban smoking, diehards are looking for a new way to feed their nicotine habit – and they may have found it.

E-cigarettes look just like the real thing, but with key differences, both good and potentially bad.

“I can smoke it anywhere, and no one can say anything to me about it,” e-cigarette user Maria Rogic said.

Despite her employers’ strict non-smoking policy, Rogic can often be found holding a cigarette – an electronic one, that is. It’s tobacco-free, and runs on a battery.

“My skin is better, I feel better,” Rogic said. “I can go up the stairs and not be out of breath.”

Thousands share her enthusiasm, and suppliers say sales are soaring, but not everyone is crazy about the e-cigarettes.

“We’re deeply concerned that these products are being sold in shopping malls, with flavors that directly appeal to kids,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said.

The e-cigarette works using liquid nicotine and other chemicals in a cartridge, turning them into a thick, odor-less vapor.

The flavors of e-liquids range from apple and blueberry to cotton candy and chocolate.

Anti-smoking advocate Dr. Michael Siegel, though, said studies show kids still favor traditional cigarettes. One big reason is because e-cigarettes are expensive.

“They cost between $90 and $120 to buy the starter pack, and most kids walking around do not have $90 that they can just spring out to buy these things,” Dr. Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, said.

The Food and Drug Administration said it’s worried, though, because e-cigarettes are not currently submitted for safety evaluations. The product eliminates tobacco and tar, but there are still unanswered questions about the other chemicals users inhale.

“What we’re urging is simply that anybody who wants to sell a product to help people quit smoking undergoes rigorous testing for safety,” Myers said.

While Dr. Siegel and others insist e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to smoking, they do agree that more testing is important.

“I think that there’s an urgent need for more research,” Dr. Siegel said. “This is a really promising product.”

Rogic has been a “non-smoker” for five months, and says anything that could help her kick a 15-year habit is worth it.

“I was determined and I knew that I wanted to be a non-smoker, so I just pulled through and did it,” Rogic said.

The FDA is fighting to have e-cigarettes classified as drug devices, which would carry more stringent oversight.

Both New Jersey and Suffolk County currently have laws restricting the use of e-cigarettes.

  • http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/01/25/ny-bill-would-ban-e-cigarettes-until-fda-action/ New York Bill In Albany Would Ban 'E-Cigarettes' Until Further Action From The FDA; Lawmakers Say More Information NecessaryCBS New York

    […] MORE: E-Cigarettes: The Good, The Bad & The Smokey The Manhattan Democrat said the manufacturers should prove to the federal Food and Drug […]

  • Sara Brandt

    Hi heard ad on cbs .Get cig only pay shipping ;False .2 weeks later charge on my credit card $ 99.00 .Furious .Cancelled my credit card as dont know what else they might try .cbs should be more careful .Be careful .Anyone else this happen to .Thanks

  • Angela

    I would like for people to watch their televisions tonight. Please note how many lawyer commercials you see in which they ask you, “If you’ve taken the drug XYZ and have experienced ABC, you could be entitled to compensation.” All of these drugs that are FDA APPROVED! People are getting serious illnesses, even dying! Look at Chantix…people have killed themselves. Way to go, FDA.

    Yet, here’s a device that’s helped millions of people without a single severe complication reported, and they want to ban it? It should be obvious to anyone with an IQ above 50 what their agenda is.

    And I’m so sick and tired of these supposed do-gooder organizations yelping about the candy flavors and targeting children. I am 33 years old and I still like chocolate and candy! As a matter of fact, I ONLY use chocolate flavored nicotine liquid. What’s the harm in that. And I bet Matthew Myers enjoys some sweets as well. He’s just using “the children” as a scare tactic for the ignorant.

  • Serena

    I think a little is ok, if you smoke too much everyday, it will affecting the entire body.

  • Sahar Hafez

    just quit, stop fooling around….just quit

    • Paul

      Why? Because you say so? I like nicotine, I don’t like the consequences of inhaling smoke, What is the big deal? Let me do whatever I want if that doesn’t affect you.

  • Shawn

    Another vapor here. This has been a wonderful product to find. I smoked for nearly 10 years and got to the point of nearly 2 packs a day. I picked up my first personal vaporizer and have not had a cigarette again yet. The idea that the FDA wants to ban a product that even if nicotine in vapor form is not healthy, it is no question HEALTHIER then the standard cigarette.

  • L Rice

    What’s fundamentally wrong with Mr. Myers and his “Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids” dislike and negative stance against e-cigs?

    E-CIGS CONTAIN NO TOBACCO!!! None, zero, zip. His campaign is mis-named.

    Now, if his complaint is against nicotine, then he should say so. Or if his complaint is against smoking, again, he should say so.

    As far as the FDA approving anything in regards to safety…check out Time Magazine’s article for the week of Aug 22,2010 regarding Avandia LOL.
    They, and the American Lung and Cancer Associations don’t want cures… that would give them less to do, less of a reason to be “in operation”. Rest assured that there are pharma companies shoveling big $$’s to anyone against E-cigs because they don’t have a piece of a viable alternative to smoking, to tapering off nicotine addiction and a viable tool to use in quitting. That is, they didn’t think of it first.

    Regarding natural and artificial flavors : There are a number of e-cig aficionados who make their own liquid from flavors purchased from baking supply stores(you know, the flavorings in your favorite cakes and candies?) and propylene glycol they purchased from the drug store.

    @Gholamhosain T: Chill…I know people who have switched from tobacco cigarettes and cigars (they make E cigars as well) whose health and stamina have returned because they don’t inhale known carcinogens and carbon dioxide multiple times an hour, people whose lung functions and capacity have IMPROVED because of the e-cig. The addiction is sometimes not only to nicotine but to the action as well. The people in this country (not the foreign companies and their possibly unsafe materials and workmanship) who make E-cigs and the liquids don’t make NEAR the profit that the tobacco companies and pharma companies make (they have too much too lose in cancer chemotherapy and target therapy to treat lung cancer to let any potential patients get away). Be more concerned about those National and International Health Organizations and the FDA as well, trying to perpetuate their own existences by lining their own pockets and disallowing or disavowing anything that would make them less useful in the world. But I do agree with you : The Tobacco companies should have never been let off the hook by any states’ attorneys general by getting to settle monetarily. They should have to continue to pay in perpetuity for their careless, murderous avarice….

    It’s too late for me, by the way, but if others can shed the monkey on their backs..more power to’em.

  • Gholamhosain Tasbihi

    Producers of cigarettes or e-cigarettes both are the enemies of the human beings. They are just after their dirty wealth and profits. FDA and other National or International Health Organizations should prohibit these profiteers from making either cigarettes or e-cigarettes or something else similar to these dangerous stuff

    • The person watching YOU

      Could you do more than launch an Ad hominem attack? And of course they are after profits. Do you perform work with no incentive? Do companies produce their product without expecting to be paid for it?

      If you think cigarettes and e-cigarettes should be prohibited, then you should also include caffeine, sugar, and ADHD medications to name a few. Nicotine is a (mostly) harmless stimulant, on par with caffeine, consumption of sugar usually causes a release of epinephrine, and well, ADHD meds are usually Amphetamines.

      How exactly is nicotine more dangerous than any other stimulant? Can you cite any reference stating that Electronic Cigarettes are dangerous?

  • Mike Straw

    I have been smoke free as of January 25, 2010 thanks to this product. I am no longer winded while jogging. My clothes don’t reek, and I am no longer wheezing when I go to sleep. It is a shame that the FDA is waging their childish version of a drug war against products that their own tests show are essentially harmless.

    The quote attributed to Mr. Myers above is arrogant and just plain wrong. I prefer sweet flavors, and preferred flavored pipe tobacco when I smoked a pipe. Do we really have high schools full of kids toting meerschaum pipes as a result of “flavors?” I think not.

  • D. Taylor

    I smoked tobacco cigarettes for 28 years, tried all the so called cessation products except the deadly Chantix which are approved by the FDA to no avail. One month ago I started using an e-cig and have been tobacco smoke free since that day. What’s in the e-liquid?
    Propylene Glycol – FDA approved and there was extensive research done in the 1940’s which shows that this was safe for inhalation, also used in fog machines.
    Nicotine – FDA approved for inhalation, it is used in Nicotine inhalers that the FDA has approved.
    Natural and Artificial flavorings – FDA approved, they are found in tobacco cigarettes to help inhance the flavor of the tobacco.
    Glycerin – FDA approved, used in fog machines.
    There is no smoke, tar, carbon dioxide or the other carcenogenic chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes.

  • Brandyn de'Masi

    I’m glad to see such a relatively objective report on the E-cigarette. There were a few things left out, that I’ll gladly cover.

    I noticed that there is mention of some of the sweeter flavors, but no mention of the tobacco flavors offered by various vendors. A good number of the flavors offered are menthol/mint varieties, and a reasonable number are straight tobacco types.

    The sweet flavors are extremely popular among adults, because once a person realizes they no longer want traditional or “analog” cigarettes they tend to dislike the taste of them as well. They were never meant for kids.

    The FDA is not fond of e-cigarettes. No-one is really 100% sure why, but it has been speculated that this is due to the loss of tax revenue from dropping tobacco sales, and some people have even gone so far as to say that big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies control the FDA. Whether or not these allegations are true remains, currently, speculation.

    The only study done by the FDA was of the Smokingeverywhere brand cartridges. In only one of the cartridges they tested (I’ve heard numbers ranging from 8 to 17 different samples) they found Di-ethylene glycol, and the amount they found was only a few parts per million. In such a small dose DEG is harmless, yet many news organizations have reported a greatly exaggerated version of the truth.

    To close, I’m a vaper, and the E-cig has improved my health and removed my dependency on traditional cigarettes.

  • j. Jasper

    I would like to know when the FDA is going to start worrying more about American Citizens health in stead of their pocketbooks? Of course with big tobacco sitting on the board I guess thats a pipe dream. I smoked for more than 45 yrs. and tried everything to quit unsuccessfully until the e-cigarette. My doctors tell me I’m allot healthier because of it. The FDA will ban e-cigarettes even if it kills us.

  • Bob

    E Cigarettes have been on the market going on seven years now; millions of consumers (worldwide) and not one report of serious illness or injury connected with them. I would say that is pretty compelling evidence that E Cigarettes do not pose a significant health risk. E Cigarettes do not burn or otherwise create smoke; they make vapor. Several studies (even the FDA one) verify that E Cigarettes are magnitudes safer than smoking. E Cigarettes allowed me to quit a 40 years, two pack a day smoking habit. The improvement in my health is proof enough for me. If the FDA would have classified E Cigarettes as a tobacco product in the first place, they would be much further along ensuring quality standards are met. Instead, the FDA is insisting (in court) that E Cigarettes be classified as a Drug Delivery Device; effectively banning them. FDA approved cessation products, with or without counseling, do not work for most smokers. E Cigarettes have proven success as a much safer alternative to smoking; they work. Why the FDA would put up obstacles discouraging nicotine addicted smokers from switching to E Cigarettes is beyond me? Perhaps it is because E Cigarettes complete with the nicotine products (also available in flavors) marketed by Big Pharma.

  • VocalEK

    Let’s get a few facts straight.
    1. Being sold in malls and offered in flavors does not prove that a product must be aimed at children. Cherry flavored Nicorette lozenges and mint-flavored Nicorette gum are also available for purchase in malls.
    2. If the FDA is so worried about product safety, why doesn’t it start regulating the products today under the Tobacco Act instead of wasting taxpayer money appealing Judge Leon’s injunction against product seizures.
    3. The products are not intended to be a treatment for nicotine addiction. The products are intended to be a replacement for smoking.
    4. Numerous lab tests have already shown that the products are much, much less hazardous to health than inhaling smoke.

  • brian

    if they cant tax it then they dont want u to be able to buy it. it however is a drug. its just basically liquid nicotine. its not smoking. not meant for quitting. i have one. i like it alot. i dont like the smell of smoke. its nice not smelling smoke and breath. anyway kids want to look cool. u dont really look cool using a nicotine inhaler that lights up.

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