More e-cigarettes being used to help kick the habit in Southern - WNEM TV 5

More e-cigarettes being used to help kick the habit in Southern Arizona

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The debate over e-cigarettes is heating up. Are they a good way to quit smoking regular cigarettes? Some Tucsonans think they are.

"I can actually take deep breaths now instead of just short little breaths. I can actually feel my lungs,” says Robert Llovet, an e-cigarette user.

Robert is making a purchase at LiTmist, an e-cigarette store in midtown. He says he was able to quit smoking thanks to these nicotine-vapor products.

“I got all the way to a pack of cigarettes a day. I was not feeling good, it wasn't good at all and so I went to e-cigarettes and feel a hundred times better,” says Llovet.

Robert isn't the only one. Lance Light says he was smoking cigarettes daily, but that all changed when he switched to e-cigarettes.

”I started at a high nicotine level.  I'm almost at zero now, so I've almost completely cut myself from nicotine,” Light says.
However, health experts continue to debate the long term effects and say there needs to be more scientific evidence to support these health claims. The American Heart Association issued its first policy recommendation on e-cigarettes this week, saying they should be used as a last resort to help smokers quit.

Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director in Arizona for the American Heart Association said, “If they've tried everything else, like all the other products that are out there for tobacco cessation, then e-cigarettes would be the product of last resort.”

Over at the University of Arizona College of Public Health there is ASHLine, a statewide helpline that works with smokers to kick the habit. Since January, the call center received more than 300 calls from people using e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking tobacco.

Dr. Cyndi Thomson, Director of ASHLine said, “We don't know if they're harmful. We don't know if there is a benefit. So really we let the patient or the client who calls us direct that decision. If they feel e-cigarettes are something they need and something they need to invest in, in terms of being able to quit, we are going to work with them and we are going to provide them the necessary coaching.”

While health experts wait for the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, users like Robert and Lance say they have no intention of putting down their e-cigs.

“I would recommend an e-cig to anyone smoking or addicted to any tobacco product,” says Light.

Click here for more information on the American Heart Association's first policy statement on e-cigarettes.

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