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Before You Puff an E-Cigarette, Read This

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Step on a crack, you break your mother's back.

Step on an e-cigarette and it may burn you.

This morning on CTV News Channel, I discussed the dangers of e-cigarettes and it got me a flurry of "feedback," mostly from those who have quit smoking using them.

E-cigarettes are small, handheld devices that may or may not look cigarettes, but they are puffed and a vapour is exhaled. The vapour is created by a liquid that doesn't smell like cigarettes or create "smoke." In fact, you can get it in all kinds of candy flavours. In Canada, in theory, the liquid does not contain nicotine, but anyone with a computer, smart phone, or access to a cross border shopping trip knows that the liquid containing nicotine isn't hard to get. And it is way cheaper than cigarettes.

My concern is twofold:

These tools are being used as a stop smoking aid, but they could be delivering more nicotine than you bargained for, along with other unknown substances. Since they weren't designed to help you quit, they are unregulated, and therefore there is no way to know how much nicotine there is compared to what you may be currently using. Some liquids have been reported to contain formaldehyde and other toxic or carcinogenic substances.

These puffing sticks are perceived as cool, harmless, and fun by teens who have never smoked and may have no desire to. If they pick one up at a party, they could be inhaling nicotine and an addiction that they haven't bargained for.

Let me be clear: I am not against e-cigarettes; they may be a great tool! And, as a non-smoker, I am happy to sit next to any e-cig so I am not inhaling second-hand smoke. Are there any benefits? If they were regulated, there could be; it would then be a measurable way to reduce nicotine and have some assurance of purity.

What I do want is for parents to know these things exist and that they are another thing that their kids are playing with.

I'd also like to encourage every smoker out there to quit smoking however they can. It is the very first thing I say in my book

"...if you are still smoking, you have heard all you need to know to convince you to quit. Following the process of Ace Your Health will help you improve your health but if you smoke, you will always be playing catch up. There is nothing that you can do from a health perspective that will overcome the damage you are doing by smoking."

You deserve a tool that has some oversight for efficacy and safety. That doesn't mean don't use e-cigs; it means, don't use them blindly. Push for regulation so you KNOW you are moving in the right direction.

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