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More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Safety of Electronic Cigarettes Still Up for Debate in Ohio

PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, and while they may appear to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, experts say more research about their safety is needed.
PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, and while they may appear to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, experts say more research about their safety is needed.
February 25, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Electronic cigarettes often are advertised as a "safer" alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but there are many questions in Ohio about their safety. E-cigarettes provide users with nicotine through a liquid solution that also contains other chemicals and flavorings. Because they were invented only a decade ago and are not yet regulated, their safety is unknown, said Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends, American Cancer Society.

"Because there are more than 250 e-cigarette companies making e-cigarettes right now, some of them do have contaminates in them, as the CDC has shown, and that's a concern," Glynn said.

While it is possible that e-cigarettes could be helpful aids for those trying to quit smoking, he added, more research and regulation are needed.

"Every time you light a cigarette, you're inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals; 60 of those are carcinogenic," Glynn explained. "With e-cigarettes, from what we know so far - and I emphasize that - they should be considerably less harmful."

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes as it does tobacco products. According to Consumer Reports, sales of e-cigarettes totaled $1.5 billion dollars in 2013, nearly triple the previous year.

Ohio lawmakers recently approved a bill that would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes by those younger than age 18. Glynn said it's an important step, as many e-cigarettes come in kid-friendly flavors.

"Many of the companies are responsible: They have no flavors, or the only flavor they have is menthol. Others have flavors like bubble gum, and that's a definite concern. We do not want kids enticed into using these," he said.

A CDC survey found that, from 2011 to 2012, e-cigarettes doubled in popularity among middle- and high-school students.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH