Electronic cigarettes, are they safe?

Aug 5, 2013

The use of electronic cigarettes appears to be growing - which raises the question are they safe? and should they be regulated?  WBFO's Chris Caya has reaction from a researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

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There are more than 250 brands of electronic - or e-cigarettes on the market. The battery operated devices heat a nicotine solution into a vapor - which is inhaled. Assistant Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park  Maciej Goniewicz says most of the chemicals were found to be safe when added to food or cosmetics.

"Before we never had any devices like electronic cigarettes on the market that were designed for inhaling these substances for a long term," said Goniewicz.

Compared to tobacco smoke Goniewicz says the level of toxins in e-cigarette vapor is low. But he says some regulations may be needed to ensure quality, protect children - and prevent false claims about the product's effectiveness.  

"On the other hand we don't want the regulations to limit access to the devices. So so far based on the evidences we've got we think the devices are of course better than tobacco cigarettes. And the smokers are interested in switching," said Goniewicz.

A recent study lead by another Roswell Park researcher - Dr. Richard O'Connor - shows 85-percent of users tried e-cigarettes" to help quit smoking - but only 11-percent succeeded.