E-cigarettes: Real deal or blowing smoke?

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Updated: 7/11/2013 1:11 pm
Up until recently, electronic cigarettes were kind of a joke.

But the vapor smokers are gaining fans now, including FOX 34's Chris Stegall, a technical news director. Up until recently, tobacco cigarettes helped get him through the work day.

"There were moments where when I took a break, I had to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Or if I couldn't take a break, I'd have to smoke one right after the show," he explained.

According to George Comiskey, an addiction and recovery studies expert, nicotine can be considered both a depressant and a stimulant.

"It has kind of dual impact. What it does is causes people to relax if they have a little anxiety, and also it gets people a little more pumped up after they've had a cigarette," Comiskey said.

Averaging a pack of day, life changed for Chris when he spotted an e-cigarette user at a coffee shop.

"And I asked him about it. He told me where the store was in town. They let me try out all of the flavors. So many different flavors," he said. 

Filled will different flavors of so-called juice, the device emits a faint vapor when smoked. Chris' cost about $100.

"I told myself that if I spent all this money on this one item, I wasn't going to buy a pack of cigarette all week. So I was gonna make my money's worth. And I didn't buy a pack the entire week."

Now Chris is down to two or three tobacco cigarettes a day.

"I don't wake up feeling bad in the morning. I don't wake up coughing and hacking."

While most e-cigarettes are made to be 'cleaner' than cigarettes, lack of regulation means there are many unknowns.

"Well one, it's not FDA approved. And the reason it's not FDA approved is we don't have long enough studies to see what the long term effects will be," Comiskey said.

And they are not an end all to smoking. Only a form of harm reduction, he said.

"We want less chemicals in the system, so that's a great start. The thing is, once they get to a certain point with it, it's still providing that physical manifestation of smoking. So that's where a patch, or something that alleviates any kind of physical connection with the smoking will illicit being able to quit and not start back up again."

Social and physical habits aside, Chris thinks he can eventually switch to smoking nicotine free juice.
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