Electronic cigarettes were first produced in China in 2009. These devices are battery-powered cigars that hold liquid cartridges containing nicotine and flavors. The cartridges are heated and emit vapor. The use of electronic cigarettes have recently become very popular in the United States, with many “Vape” shops popping up around the country. Advertisers have led the public to believe that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking because they do not create ash; instead, they produce smokeless vapor.

Although the makers of e-cigarettes would like to claim otherwise, the safety of these products has not been adequately tested. In fact, early studies have found traces of toxic, cancer-causing ingredients. There is also evidence that these ingredients lead to a condition called “popcorn lung,” which causes irreversible damage and scarring to the lungs, as well as asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Food & Drug Administration does not regulate the production of electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved for quitting smoking. Other products such as patches and gums are more acceptable ways to quit smoking, and have been tested long-term for their safety and effectiveness. The American Lung Association has petitioned the FDA to oversee the ingredients used in e-cigarettes and conduct long-term studies that test these products. Until more research is done, electronic cigarette use is not recommended and cannot be called a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes or an approved way to quit smoking.

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