The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

August 11, 2013

Very little is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes

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It is also important to note that e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA. E-cigarettes are currently regulated as a tobacco product — even though they contain no tobacco.

Because of this classification, there’s no oversight from the FDA to ensure they are safe. Like regular cigarettes, you can buy e-cigarettes without a prescription.

Nicotine inhalers, on the other hand, are classified as a type of medicine. They are regulated by the FDA and available by prescription only. They fall into a class of drugs known as nicotine replacement therapy, and they are used as part of stop-smoking treatment plans.

As with e-cigarettes, nicotine inhalers give you a dose of nicotine when you puff on them. Unlike e-cigarettes, the amount of nicotine you receive is controlled and small. And with nicotine inhalers you receive only nicotine. No other ingredients are included.

Nicotine inhalers have been carefully studied in controlled clinical research trials. They are safe and proven to be effective in helping people stop smoking. If you’re interested in using nicotine inhalers as part of a program to help you stop smoking, talk to your doctor.

He or she can discuss the inhalers with you in more detail, as well as provide information about other medications and resources available to help you quit.

With the data available now, Mayo Clinic does not recommend the use of e-cigarettes. At this time, we simply don’t know enough about them.

They have not been proven safe, nor have they been shown to be effective in helping people stop smoking. -- Jon Ebbert, M.D., Nicotine Dependence Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to medicaledge@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.

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