Is it safe to vape?

E-cigarettes and your health It sounds like a dream come true for smokers—a supposedly safer alternative to cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are rechargeable, battery-powered inhalers filled with a liquid that generally contains nicotine, flavoring and/or other additives. A heater within the device creates a vapor, which is inhaled (“vaped” is the lingo) just like cigarette smoke, but without the tar and certain other chemicals. Proponents claim that e-cigarettes may help people quit or cut down on real cigarettes.

An Italian study found a sustained 50 percent reduction in the number of real cigarettes smoked per day by 13 of 40 regular smokers, and another nine quit smoking altogether. “But these are small studies,” says Zhonglin Hao, M.D., leader of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center. “Many patients are asking for advice about e-cigarette use—and whether or not these devices are safe.” No regulation, few restrictions According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has unsuccessfully tried to regulate e-cigarettes as a drug, vaping has some serious concerns. Without extensive testing, there is no way to know how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are in e-cigarettes or how much is inhaled during use. We also don’t know the long-term effects of inhaling the vapor into the lungs.

Until more information is available, most experts suggest relying on FDA-approved smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine gums or patches, counseling, medications (including Chantix or Wellbutrin) or other techniques, if you want to quit smoking. Visit the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center’s Tobacco Cessation Clinic for health assessments, a cessation class and more resources. To make an appointment, call 706-721-6744.