With sales of electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes,” on the rise and expected to hit $1.5 billion this year, concerns over potential health risks of using the trendy devices are also gaining momentum and political clout. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society, delves into what scientists and regulators are doing about e-cigarettes, which are now being cleverly marketed under more appealing names such as hookah pens and vape pipes.The battery-powered devices deliver an inhalable vapor, with or without nicotine. Deirdre Lockwood, a C&EN contributing editor, notes that they are often viewed as a safer – and tastier – alternative to smoking cigarettes. Users can choose from an impressive variety of flavors, from key lime pie to black honey tobacco. Some try smoking or “vaping” with the devices as a way to help wean themselves off of tobacco cigarettes, which deliver a toxic cocktail of substances linked to cancer. Although some researchers think the devices are a safer alternative for tobacco smokers, recent studies on the contents of e-cigarette vapor raise concerns about health impacts on users and the public. And regulators, at least at the state and local levels, are taking action.
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