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Smoking Cessation Health Center

E-Cigarettes Under Fire

No-Smoke Electronic Cigarettes Draw Criticism From FDA, Medical Groups
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E-Cigarettes: Good? continued...

Youngblood says his company makes no health claims. He rejects the idea that his product is a smoking cessation device and says his company does not make that claim. He also says his product is not sold to minors.

Youngblood does make this claim: E-cigarettes are green.

"There is no pollution of the environment with this product," he says. "The vapor is not the same as smoke. And for every odor-free e-cigarette cartridge people throw in the trash, smokers throw 20 smelly cigarette butts out their car windows."

Some firms do suggest that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes. Most point to a Ruyan-funded study by tobacco researcher Murray Laugesen, MBChB, of Health New Zealand, a private research firm.

Laugesen analyzed Ruyan e-cigarettes and found nothing inherently bad in them -- that is, they contained what they said they contained and posed little threat of immediate harm.

But this was not a clinical study, notes Norman Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, one of the organizations that has called for an FDA ban on e-cigarettes.

"Laugesen is trying to project what the effects of e-cigarettes might be, but he doesn't really know," Edelman tells WebMD. "There are no clinical studies of long-term use of these products."

And some firms do claim that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking. After all, there's an FDA-approved nicotine inhaler already in drug stores -- Pfizer's Nicotrol. It doesn't look much like a cigarette, but it doesn't look much different than some e-cigarette products.

What's the difference?

"The Nicotrol inhaler is an approved smoking cessation device," says the FDA's Chapelle. "Because these e-cigarette products haven't been reviewed by the agency, their labeling has to be reviewed, their intended use has to be reviewed, and all of their ingredients and components have to be reviewed."

E-Cigarettes: Bad?

Edelman says nicotine addiction is bad and that people with the habit need help quitting, not help continuing their habit in more socially acceptable ways.

And there's no proof that e-cigarettes don't cause long-term harm. That's what bothers all the health experts who discussed e-cigarettes with WebMD.

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