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The 411 on Vaping: January 31, 2014

Move over cigarettes, vaping devices are going where smokers are no longer welcome, including stores and restaurants. The CDC reports more Americans are picking up the habit.

“That’s not considered smoking indoors, so they can get their little fix of nicotine and not have to excuse themselves,” says Mickey Ferry, restaurateur.

Most e-cigarettes mimic the look of traditional smokes - they also contain nicotine along with other flavors. Unlike traditional smokes, electronic cigarettes don’t involve lighting up.

“You’re putting an oil-based chemical into a chamber and then there’s a battery operated heating device which vaporizes the material and you inhale that into your lungs,” says Dr. Sunil Pammi, pulmonologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Nicotine still gets into the bloodstream, but mostly through soft tissue in the cheeks and not the lungs. That’s leading people to believe electronic cigarettes are a safer alternative to smokes. Since they aren’t regulated, there is no proof to back that belief.

“I think it’s really important these devices get studied because we don't know if there are affects from these devices. We’ll find out 10-15 years from now, after people used them for that long of a period,” says Dr. Pammi.

“My mother actually introduced me to this about seven months ago and I put down the pack of cigarettes,” says James Didio, e-cigarette user.

Didio is like many people, who vape to wean off cigarettes, although e-cigarettes don’t claim to be smoking cessation devices.

“The companies themselves haven’t marketed the device for that purpose, so it’s a bit questionable exactly what the intentions are,” says Dr. Pammi.

“I know what’s in a cigarette and I try to say maybe this is better. I have no scientific knowledge of the fact at all,” says Didio.

While many issues are cloudy- one thing is clear. E-cigarettes are igniting concern.