1. New e-cig dangers

    I don't know a single smoker who hasn't tried to quit at some point. I'm sure you know some people like that.

    Maybe you smoke and you've tried to quit -- and failed -- yourself.

    If you're a smoker, it's the single biggest step you can take to improve your health. But there's one quitting strategy you definitely shouldn't try, and that's electronic cigarettes, aka  an "e-cig."

    I'm sure you've seen the ads for them. They're in magazines, on the radio, in mall kiosks and even on television as obnoxious celebrities spew nonsense about how e-cigs helped them to take back their "freedom," as if the freedom to kill yourself is somehow worth celebrating.

    It's not.

    The ads imply that smoking an e-cig is somehow safer for smokers and those who might inhale secondhand vapors, but that has never been proven.

    Dr. Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said e-cig vapor can contain metal particles so small they can pass into the bloodstream from the lungs.

    And if there's anything you don't want rushing through your bloodstream, it's metal particles -- because metals exposure can cause everything from chronic disease to brain damage.

    In addition, the "e-liquids" or "smoke juice" used inside e-cigs are so potent that just spilling a little on yourself could cause vomiting and seizures. It could even kill a child, according to another new report.

    Finally, some people also seem to believe e-cigs might help them to quit smoking -- but that's just not true.

    If anything, e-cig smokers are actually less likely to quit over the course of a year, according to the new study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    So if you smoke, quit -- but don't do it with any tricks, gimmicks, or half-measures. And don't even waste your time with the so-called smoking cessation drugs, which come with big risks and don't even work for many people.

    Instead, go cold turkey -- statistically, still the single most successful long-term quitting strategy around. And if you have trouble fighting off the cravings, try hypnosis or acupuncture.

  2. E-cigs cause lung damage

    If you're trying to quit smoking, you've got the right idea.

    But if you think smokeless "e-cigarettes" are a safer alternative or a tool to help you quit, your right idea is on the wrong track.

    Despite the marketing hype, these gimmicky battery-powered cigarettes haven't proven to be any safer than regular smokes -- and the latest research shows they come with plenty of risks of their own, including significant changes to the airways after just a few minutes of use.

    Greek researchers asked 30 otherwise healthy smokers to try e-cigarettes, then watched to see what happened to the airways.

    They didn't have to wait long: After just five minutes, the airways showed signs of inflammation, and breathing tests revealed that the passages were already undergoing constriction.

    The researchers say more studies need to be done to see what this means over the long term, but do yourself a favor: Don't wait around to find out.

    While short-term airway constriction and inflammation don't add up to rock-solid proof that e-cigs lead to long-term lung damage, it's not exactly an encouraging sign, is it?

    E-cigs are relatively new on the scene, but they've been popping up everywhere. And if you haven't seen one yet, you probably haven't been in any malls lately, where kiosks for the devices are popping up quicker than Cinnabon stands.

    The folks who work these kiosks will puff away on their e-cigs right there in the mall to show how "safe" it is -- releasing not stinky tobacco smoke, but odorless water vapor.

    They don't even call it smoking -- they call it "vaping."

    But while they claim the water vapor is a safer way to deliver nicotine, that doesn't make them safe -- and any implication to the contrary is pure puffery.

    Tests have found diethylene glycol, a highly toxic chemical used in antifreeze, as well as known carcinogens called nitrosamines and other dangerous chemicals in some e-cig solutions.

    Not exactly what I'd want to inhale.

    In addition, the e-cig solution -- often called "smoke juice" or "e-liquid" -- is unregulated, of highly inconsistent quality and often made overseas, in places like China.

    The only real safe alternative to smoking is not smoking. E-cigs might look different -- but in reality, it's just a whole lot of risk with a high-tech name.

    If you really want to quit, do it the right way... and for more on that, keep reading.

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