Health Department Speaks Out Over “E-Cigarettes”
They claim to be an “alternative to smoking,” but how safe are the new electronic cigarettes? The battery-operated cigarettes are not FDA approved. The government agency has even stated that some of the chemicals found in the products may be harmful to the user. This is partly why the Grand Traverse County Health Department is warning the public not to be fooled. The department is speaking out after a billboard went up on M-72 in Traverse City. It's paid for by a local woman who started an online business selling the product. “It's the wave of the future,” says Paige Kestner, Owner of miniecigarette.com. “It looks like you're smoking but you're really not. There is no smoke.” Instead of smoke, “e-cigarettes” emit vapor. The product does not contain tobacco, tar, or other cancer causing agents. “This is a nicotine delivery device,” says Dr. Michael Collins, Medical Director in Grand Traverse County. “It still includes the nicotine so it will still addict people like cigarettes do.” Collins says they're also concerned about the electronic cigarettes being marketed to kids, especially since they're available in a assortment of flavors. Kestner says she understand the concerns over the new smokeless smokes, but still feels it's a safer way to enjoy a harmful habit. “I say hands down, you compare the two and it's obvious this is a much better alternative,” she says. Since the device does not burn and does not emit smoke, it's unclear if they are part of the smoking ban in Michigan that begins later this year. 9&10's Ryan Raiche and Photojournalist Chivon Kloepfer have the story.