Sioux Falls, SD
Regular smoking may be losing popularity, but a new type of cigarette is gaining popularity. Some people believe electronic cigarettes are a healthier alternative, but not all health experts agree.
After smoking cigarettes for seven years, Jayson Kelley has not had a regular cigarette for three months. Instead, he's turned to e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that usually contain nicotine and other additives, like flavoring.
"All you blow out is a vapor," Kelley said.
One of the reasons more people are using e-cigarettes is because it costs less. For instance, a bottle for an e-cigarette costs $10. That's about equivalent to five to seven packs of cigarettes.
"I know some of them are being sold as helping you quit tobacco and some people have used e-cigarettes to quit," Avera Heart Hospital Respiratory Therapist Deb Murray said.
But Murray says there's not enough research to prove that e-cigarettes are any better than traditional cigarettes.
"What we know about the e-cigarette is it contains nicotine and some chemicals, but what we don't know about it is what's the long-term effect of those chemicals," Murray said.
Another concern right now is e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, unless they claim to offer therapeutic benefits. 40 Attorneys General, including South Dakota's, are urging the FDA to regulate these devices in the same way it regulates tobacco products.
"What's worrisome is there's over 200 types of e-cigarettes out there," Murray said.
Meanwhile, Kelley says he's not trying to kick the habit yet, but he says these electronic devices do offer a simple way to quit.
"I'd come in here and buy a lower level of nicotine and start smoking a 12 millogram for a little while until I got used to that. Then keep gradually going down from there," Kelley said.
The group of Attorneys General also worry that e-cigarette makers are marketing to children through the fruity flavors and cartoon-like advertising.