What's up with those battery-operated cigarettes?
They're touted as a fire-less alternative to the real thing; they're known as electronic cigarettes. One problem with them, according to Dr. Doug Jorenby, professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is that they've been around for a relatively short time; there's not a lot known about the product.
"The FDA and just started to look into these now … we don't know much of anything from a scientific perspective about whether these are safer, whether they're harmful…"
A recent analysis from the FDA found that E-cigarettes contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals dangerous to humans.
Dr. Jorenby says manufacturers are taking advantage of the onslaught of smoking bans, marketing their product pretty aggressively over the Internet and, not surprisingly, in bars.
"Manufacturers who are saying well these are not cigarettes, they're not burning tobacco, they're not producing environmental tobacco smoke therefore they're not violating no-smoking policies."
With their cylindrical shape and glowing tip, the devices are designed to look like actual cigarettes, and they're readily available via the Internet.
The fake smokes contain cartridges filled with varying doses of nicotine and come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate, cherry and bubble gum. Dr. Jorenby reminds us that the FDA has oversight of tobacco products, specifically cigarettes with so-called candy flavorings added.
It's important to note, E-cigarettes are not touted as smoking cessation tools, just an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Dr. Jorenby says that's because such a claim would need to be approved by the FDA.