Are e-cigarettes and hookahs bad for you?

It’s widely known that smoking tobacco is dangerous:  a major cause of lung cancer, chronic lung disease and premature death.  Not to mention bad breath. 

But what about e-cigarettes?  Since you are inhaling only nicotine vapor, they must be safer than tobacco cigarettes.  Right?

It’s actually unknown if e-cigarettes are safe.    Discovery Health has put together ten facts about e-cigarettes that question the safety of the devices.  For instance,  they go unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the side effects of inhaling pure nicotine have not been studied.  Despite the unknowns, double the number of teens tried e-cigarettes in 2013 than in 2012, according to the National Youth Tobacco study, summarized by the American Cancer Society.

What about hookahs?  Since hookahs are legal, social, infrequent, and the smoke passes through water, are they healthier than smoking regular tobacco or marijuana?  No, says the Centers for Disease Control.  But, like e-cigarettes, youth are using hookahs at increasing rates, alarming doctors.

This is a topic where I really needed to pay attention to reliable sources.  Though I found many videos extolling the benefits of hookahs and the safety of water pipe smoke, the source of this information was usually a guy filming a video in his garage.  Whenever you look for health or medical information, especially about drugs, think about the reliability of the source and the potential biases of the writer, video host, or organization.  For more on evaluating health information on the web, take a look at librarian Mary B.’s blog entry

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