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Glowing debate: Are e-cigarettes safer?

Published On: Feb 27 2014 11:40:08 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 28 2014 04:55:26 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Renee Nelson reports on the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes and the concerns some health experts have.

BEND, Ore. -

Tobaccoless cigarettes called e-cigarettes are gaining popularity in this country. 

Health experts say e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, but some fear they can get others hooked on nicotine. 

Peter Chugaev has been smoking for 45 years and for the past 15 he's been trying to quit.  

Now he's turning to electronic cigarettes to try to quit. Users inhale, but there's no smoke. Taking a puff triggers a heating coil, which warms up liquid nicotine, in a plastic filter, resulting in nicotine-filled vapor.   

But hard-core smokers aren't the only ones seeking out e-cigarettes. Young people are as well, and that has some health experts concerned, because these products are not federally regulated, and there is limited research on their safety. 

Dr. Louis D'Avignon at the Bend Memorial Clinic says the Centers for Disease Control have looked into this.

The greatest concern is that between 2011 and 2012, the rate of use between middle school and high school kids has doubled. 

Another concern is that these products come in flavors that may appeal to young people.

D'Avignon says, "There's concern the flavoring of the e-cigarettes would appeal to young people and the flavoring is not as harsh."

Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, says, "Well, there are not a lot of adults who would smoke a cotton candy e-cigarette." 

Manufacturers say they don't market to kids and maintain that electronic cigarettes are a good alternative to conventional ones. 

For Chugaev, e-cigarettes seem to be helping. He is down from a pack a day of regular cigarettes to about half that and hopes to kick the habit by the end of the year. 

However, health experts worry are still concerned about children and that once addicted to the nicotine in e-cigarettes, young people may branch out and try tobacco products.


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