Every evening, she plugs her battery-operated electronic cigarette into a charger. She no longer carries a lighter or sucks breath mints all day in the office.
""I call myself a non-smoker,"" says Moraffah, a 54-year-old executive assistant from
E-cigarettes contain cartridges of nicotine that release an inhalable vapor. There's no odor or smoke. They're marketed as a safe alternative to tobacco's lung-choking tar and cancer-causing carcinogens.
But those claims are disputed by the
""Because these products have not been submitted to the
, founder of In Life, an
""We're an alternative to tobacco,"" Youngblood says. ""We're not saying we're going to give you big muscles or you'll live to 130 ... Caffeine and nicotine are not that dissimilar. What's next? Telling you how many cups of coffee you can have?""
The models vary. Moraffah prefers a device that looks like a fancy ink pen. Another resembles a regular cigarette except the bright end is blue, not the color of a flame. E-cigarettes cost about
""We don't want to look like a cigarette,"" Youngblood says. ""We're in reality, an anti-cigarette.""
Youngblood talks like he's on a crusade against cigarettes. He cites forest fire statistics, the pounds of discarded butts littering beaches. Not to mention the federal government's calculation that more than 430,000 premature deaths each year are caused by tobacco or secondhand smoke.
But that's where he and many other anti-smoking advocates depart.
, a pulmonologist who teaches at
""The vapor that you inhale is not without risk,"" Strumpf says. ""It's not pure nicotine. It has with it some contaminants. When the
Strumpf said he's concerned that e-cigarettes are marketed to people who want to quit smoking but also to those who have never smoked before.
""The fact they present them in the shape of a cigarette, they're trying to capitalize on the social aspect of smoking and trying to promote the social appeal of smoking.""
, a tobacco researcher at the
""We can't say these are perfectly safe, but with everything we know about them we can certainly say they are vastly safer than continuing to light cigarette tobacco on fire and inhaling the 3,000 or 4,000 chemicals that cigarette smokers are doing right now,"" Rodu said.
, 52, has become such a fan of the e-cigarette that he's started selling them with In Life. He puffs his in restaurants, the bank and even in church. He said he enjoys the novelty and the curious looks and questions.
""This has literally saved my life,"" says the
French said he tried quitting smoking with the patch, gum and medication designed to reduce cravings. But he missed the oral satisfaction of a cigarette, which he said e-cigarettes replicate.
""You get the hand to mouth, you get the vapor. Inhaling that vapor is almost exactly the same as what it feels like to smoke,"" he says. ""We just want the nicotine. We don't want the other stuff in the tobacco.""
(c) 2009, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
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