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E-Cigarettes: Helpful or Harmful?

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LAWTON, Okla_E-cigs, vaporizers, vapor stix-- no matter what you call them, you probably know someone who's using them.


Stores are popping up all around town touting the tobacco-free alternative. Their users swear by the new technology, saying it helps with their health and pocket book, but the lack of regulation and research available has medical health professionals saying you better think twice before taking a puff. 

The reason for the lack of research basically stems from the fact that the research hasn't been able to keep up with the technology. There are studies in the works and the FDA is looking into the matter, but collecting data can take years.

"Business is crazy, like it is so busy all the time, " said Chelsie Stubblefield, employee of a local vaporizer shop.


Her shop is just one of the many stores that has popped up around Lawton touting the high-tech smoking devices, and users and employees alike are believers.

"I can taste things better, and I can smell things a lot better, and I don't cough as much as I used to at night, " said another employee and vaporizer user Alexis Davis.

The tobacco-free alternative is cheaper than a carton of cigarettes, there's a wide array of interesting flavors but most of all users say it's helped them cut down on the addictive habit of smoking.

"I've had a lady that come in who said she's been smoking 50 years, and she's quit smoking. She said she hasn't picked up cigarettes in three months. I had a police officer that came in yesterday he said he's been smoking for 27 years, and he hasn't smoked in months, " Davis said.

So maybe it does stop people from smoking the traditional cigarette, but there is no proven research that they actually help people break their addiction to nicotine. And that's just one of the many reasons Sandy Foster of Comanche County Memorial cannot get on board with the new fad. 

"They don't know that it's safer, and for them to be saying that... people who are looking for a way to quit are going to pick it up, " Foster explained.

There are still plenty of chemicals in the e-cigs and no proof that  they're not any better or worse than the carcinogens found in cigarettes. Foster said if you want to quit, there are plenty of proven alternatives.

"The patches, the gums, the lozenges -- those are the things that have been proven, there is research that do help, " said Foster.

All of the research and health matters aside, Foster said the biggest crime is the advertising. Because of a loophole, manufacturers of these vaporizers are able to advertise on TV and suck people in with appealing flavors and smells.

"That's exactly how the tobacco industry hooks our kids with those flavors. That's why it's illegal to sell cigarette. The FDA banned flavors in our cigarettes, and that's why they did that because it promoted that to our youth, " Foster said.

Foster said until that definitive research is available there's really no telling what kind of harm these vaporizers cause, but until then there are still some important things to remember. 
You must still be 18 to purchase an e-cigarette or vaporizer, and those oils inside are harmful and should be kept out of reach of children and pets.

It has been ruled that the FDA has authority to regulate the e-cigarettes, so at some point, they will be coming out with an opinion on them, but that could still take several more years.
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