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Daily Newscasts

Smoke Without Fire Sparks Hazy Cigarette Issues in WYO

August 10, 2009

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Oregon is the first state to ban the sale of so-called electronic cigarettes, and some health advocates are calling for Wyoming to follow suit. The battery-operated tubes look like real paper-and-tobacco cigarettes, and contain nicotine and flavors that can be inhaled without producing smoke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to regulate them as drug devices.

Some makers of e-cigarettes call them a safer alternative to smoking. For Dana Kaye with the American Lung Association, that doesn't fly.

"My fear is just the opposite with these. If people are using them thinking they're not going to get addicted, we're going to have a new culture of folks that are hooked on nicotine, who weren't previously."

Kaye says electronic cigarettes don't make nicotine any less addictive, and the FDA has found other chemicals in them, including diethylene glycol, one common ingredient of antifreeze.

"I think we see it in some other things, makeup and lotions and that kind of stuff. There's a safe limit of
that particular chemical, but not necessarily as an inhaled substance."

Kaye says most of the electronic cigarettes come from China and their health effects have not been thoroughly tested.

Two distributors of the products are challenging the FDA for confiscating shipments; the court date is August 17.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY