E-cigarettes: Easy nicotine fix or too risky?

E-cigarettes: Easy nicotine fix or too risky?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The e-cigarette phenomenon is here. You see them at gas stations, drug stores and just about any place that sells regular cigarettes, but just because they don't have smoke, doesn't mean the health authorities are backing off.

Bad breath, yellow teeth and cigarette burns are just some of things you don't have to worry about when you inhale an e-cigarette.

"A lot of people just love smoking and they have no interest in quitting and they just use electronic cigarettes as an alternative," says Brent Duke of 21 Century Smoke.   

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices. They make smokers feel like they're putting their lips on the real thing. The big difference is these e-cigarettes aren't loaded with tobacco, but they do have nicotine: 0 to 36 milligrams.

"Electronic cigarettes are great for everyone," Duke explains. "Whether you're just wanting to go to a bar use in your house or if you're looking to cut back on traditional cigarettes."

There are a number of national brands out there. One on Chicago's North Side, called 21 Century Smoke, carries more than two dozen flavors.

"Well, you get the nicotine but you don't get the tobacco, the tar, all the other chemicals you don't get any smoke. It's a water vapor," Duke says.

The owners opened the shop and because of what they call the benefits of e-cigarettes, they have 13 other locations across the Midwest.

E-cigarettes have been on the market for a while and gaining momentum because of advertisements and the success that some smokers are having at kicking the habit.

Dr. Marlon Everett is a cardiologist in Palos Heights. He says e-cigarettes are much better than the alternative.

Other doctors agree. Electronic cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and they say more needs to be done.

While some are calling for more research, it'll take years before we ever really know what's inside the smoke sticks.

The FDA just recently issued an advisory to all its retailers asking them to let the consumer know what their products are made of. The store on the North Side has a warning on its boxes and they will not sell to anyone under 18.

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