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Special Report: E-Cigarette Explosion Part II

They're smoking hot, but are e-cigarettes safe? It's a big question for the unregulated and untested industry. But a new study reveals e-cigarettes might be as effective as the nicotine patch in getting people to kick the habit.

Doris Ballard has smoked for 15 years and tried the e-cigarette because her daughter wanted her to quit.

"I think it's wonderful. I mean you just feel like it's really sort of like a cigarette because you see the steam come out of it," said Ballard.

Experts agree water vapor is not nearly as harmful as the smoke from tobacco cigarettes.

Dr. Brady Shroer heads up the Addiction Center at Pardee Hospital. He doesn't promote the use of any nicotine, which is highly addictive.  But says e-cigs appear to be a safer alternative.

"Conventional cigarettes have approximately 11,000 contaminants or carcinogens every time you inhale. We know e-cigarettes are somewhere in the vicinity of ten, So there's a substantial less exposure to the e-cigarette as compared to the conventional cigarette," said Shroer.

Conventional cigarette companies have seen the writing on the wall. North Carolina based Lorilard has bought out E-Blue. Other tobacco giants are racing to enter the e-cig industry, where sales have been red hot.

A just released study in the Medical Journal Lancet is giving credence to e-cigarettes as a method for smoking cessation.

But some worry a lack of regulations make e-cigs very different from nicotine patches. That's why some e-cig vapor manufacturers, like Mountain Vapor in Hendersonville, support some regulation to control what goes in the liquid vapor bottle.

Critics complain the e-cig industry is trying to hook teenagers on nicotine by offering bubble gum, fruits and other sweet flavors. But e-cig sellers say that's not the case with many voluntarily agreeing not to sell them to anyone under 18-years-old.


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