Local doctors weigh in on smoking vs. e-cigarettes, vaping

Local doctors weigh in on smoking vs. e-cigarettes, vaping

One local doctor explains why he encourages his patients to use e-cigarettes and vaporizers to quit smoking.
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- It's becoming more and more common for people to swap out cigarettes for the electric or vapor ones, but are they are really better for you?

The pull, the taste, it's definitely different, but for former smoker Amber Newbern, that's a good thing.

"My chest isn't tight. I'm full of energy," said Newbern.

She quit smoking in December. Before that, Newbern said she smoked two packs a day for 10 years, and failed at quitting several times. She succeeded this time around after visiting Stormy's Vapor Cellar in Macon to try "vaping."

"I'm getting the sensation of smoking but none of the harmful side effects," said Newbern.

Based on his research, Dr. Darl Rantz, a family practice doctor, would agree. He said you just have to look at the numbers.

"There's about 700 toxins in a cigarette. 70 of those toxins are carcinogenic meaning they can incite cells to become cancerous," said Rantz.

In one brand of an e-cigarette Rantz used as an example, only one ingredient stood out as harmful, nicotine.

"The research shows that nicotine itself is not carcinogenic, but that decreases the cells resistance in the ability to fight cancer," said Rantz.

Keeping people cancer free, Dr. Rantz, and Dee Maurer agree, starts with putting down cigarettes.

Maurer, who owns Stormy's Vapor Cellar, says she tries to help her customers do that by offering them what she believes is a safer alternative. The vapor she sells is made up of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavoring, and various levels of nicotine.

"They're mixed and made in FDA labs or clean rooms. They're food grade. So we try to make it as safe as possible when we buy our products," said Maurer.

However, the jury is still out for some. Lung specialist at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Dr. Bruce Burns said it's too early to tell what long term effects are of e-cigarettes and vapors.

"These may turn out to be a safe short term solution to get you off cigarettes, but you know we just don't know. So that's kind of the conundrum we're faced with," said Burns.

But, for Newbern swapping cigarettes for vapor, was definitely the right decision.

"I feel fantastic... I have not had a craving (for cigarettes) since I started vaping," said Newbern.

Dr. Burns said recommends his patients try to change their behavior rather than substitute cigarettes for the mechanical versions. On the other hand, Dr. Rantz, who says he's treated more than 40 patients who are in the process of quitting or have quit smoking, recommends them to his patients because they're far less toxic than the real thing.

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