Blowing smoke...or vapor

Have you been at the mall and had someone approach you to buy an electronic cigarette?

Or, you may have seen people smoking them on an airplane or in a restaurant and wondered, are those safe to use?

Well, some smokers who are trying to quit are turning to electronic cigarettes.

There are some studies that show e-cigarettes are useful in curbing the desire to smoke and can take the place of regular cigarettes as a nicotine replacement.

The FDA has tested a couple of e-cigarette capsules. It has found that many chemicals are in at least the two brands that they tested. It noticed there were many carcinogens in those capsules as well, but the implications of that clinically are unclear because doctors do not know what kind of harm it can cause.

â??Weâ??re exposed to carcinogens everyday of our lives, so really whatâ??s critical is how much of those substances are in the e-cigarette canister,â?? Wesley Ryle, M.D., of ATSUâ??s Gutensohn Clinic said.

But, a Kirksville physician said the possible long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown and probably vary from brand to brand.

â??The bottom line is we donâ??t really know what the risks of the e-cigarettes are,â?? Ryle said. â??So, in one sense youâ??re trading a known riskâ?¦ for really an unknown risk. It's not to say the e-cigarettes aren't without potential benefits, it's just the risk are unclear and they're not well studied as far as the benefits.â??

The devices are not FDA regulated, so different brands can have different chemicals in them. "Even within a brand they can vary from lot to lot , because again there is no control other than what the company chooses to have over the contents of the product," Ryle said.

Ryle said eventually you should stop smoking e-cigarettes if they're something you choose to use for smoking sensation purposes.

He said electronic cigarettes can cause a few adverse side effects. For some people, they can cause dry mouth, headache or an upset stomach.

Ryle said it's important for people to understand the electronic cigarettes are not well studied, not well regulated, the FDA has warned against use and The World Health Organization has come out against the use of e-cigarettes, but they may have a use in some people who have not been able to quit smoking through other means.