E-cigarettes are being praised for their ability to help people quit smoking, but the Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and the tobacco industry remain skeptical.
Advocates argue that e-cigarettes, an electronic inhaler containing nicotine that allows a user to mimic the act of smoking while still getting their fix, are healthier, cheaper, and less intrusive to nonsmokers than traditional cigarettes.
More than 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes, and about half of smokers try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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"The day I started with electronic cigarettes, that was it,"
Buddy Hall, a Pennsylvania e-cigarette user, told the Observer-Reporter. "I would not consider [an actual] cigarette today. People [who use them] still have an addiction to nicotine, but they’re not putting themselves at risk for cancer and other stuff."
But the FDA reported earlier this year that e-cigarettes do not necessarily encourage a smoker to quit. The WHO also expressed doubt that the electronic alternative to cigarettes would increase the number of nonsmokers.
The tobacco industry isn’t very happy about its new competition either. The sale of tobacco products in March dropped 4.5 percent from 2013 projections, according to analysts from Morgan Stanley.
It seems, however, that e-cigarettes are here to stay and may soon go mainstream as big tobacco sniffs out how they can get in on a piece of the sales. Altria, parent company of Philip Morris and the maker of Marlboro, will reportedly launch its own e-cigarette later this summer.
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Last week, Reynolds American Inc., owner of the nation's second-biggest tobacco company, announced that it is launching a revamped version of its Vuse brand electronic cigarette in Colorado in July, with plans to expand nationally. Lorillard Inc., the nation's third-biggest tobacco company, acquired e-cigarette maker Blu Ecigs in April 2012 and has expanded to more than 80,000 retail outlets.
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