E-cigs not a safe way to break the habit

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 13, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.

Q: I want to quit smoking and am thinking about trying electronic cigarettes. Are they safe? Do they work?

— Matthew F., Atlanta

A: Congratulations! That commitment is the first step to victory! Now you want to choose a routine that's effective.

We think smokeless electronic cigarettes threaten the progress that's been made in helping people get free of nicotine and tobacco. E-cigs deliver pure nicotine to the lungs. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that if people start using traditional AND e-cigarettes together, the public health repercussions could be pretty bad.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate e-cigs (they're trying), so no one knows for sure what's in the water vapor that drifts out of them, how much nicotine they deliver or whether other toxins are present (they're reported to contain chemicals that are as bad for you as cigarettes or worse). Most are made in China.

Their vapors are free of the tar and carbon monoxide in real cigs, but the device doesn't necessarily lessen nicotine dependence. Breaking habits means substituting new behaviors for old ones; the electronic cigs just keep you puffing away (inhaling toxins, if reports are correct).

Stick with patches and gums for smoking cessation. And follow our proven techniques for kicking nicotine and tobacco. The full program is on RealAge.com.

1. Exercise daily — walk at least 30 minutes, jog, swim or cycle. Withdrawal symptoms will vaporize.

2. Along with nicotine patches, ask your doc about using the anti-craving drug buproprion.

3. Upgrade your diet. Eliminate refined carbs and added sugars and sugar syrups; they fuel food cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You'll lose weight as you quit. Women typically lose six pounds on our Enforcer E-coaching program.

Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.

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