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E-cigarettes: are they helping or hurting consumers?

According to CNN, E-cigarettes are taking the tobacco industry by storm. A growing number of people are now turning to “vape” instead of smoke, creating a 2.7 billion dollar industry.

In the U.K., a third of all smokers are utilizing e-cigarettes to help relieve addiction to nicotine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year. E-cigarettes provide an attractive alternative to tobacco; they remove exposure to the tar and chemicals found in tobacco smoke and thus, remove potentials for lung disease and other conditions related to tobacco use.

“The vast number of people using e-cigarettes are using them to stop smoking; [they’re] about 60% more effective than going cold turkey or buying nicotine replacement therapy over the counter,” said Linda Bauld, professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling.

Many critics of these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) suggest they are fueling a new addiction to nicotine, specifically among young people who are experimenting with the new technology.

“While ENDS may have the potential to benefit established adult smokers … [they] should not be used by youth and adult non-tobacco users because of the harmful effects of nicotine and other risk exposures,” says Tim McAfee, director the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Exposure to nicotine can harm adolescent brain development.”

Based on studies conducted by the CDC, many adolescents are trying e-cigarettes instead of conventional cigarettes due to interest in the new technology as well as curiosity about the numerous flavors provided. Many fear this could lead to conventional cigarette smoking.

As a result of potential dangers e-cigarettes may cause, many are calling for the product to be regulated.