Health professionals give e-cigarettes the 'thumbs down'

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With a higher cigarette tax in Minnesota kicking in this month, bringing a pack of smokes to around $8, more smokers are getting their fix from a popular alternative: e-cigarettes.

KARE 11 says the e-cig business is booming around the state, with several stores cropping up in the last several years.

E-smokers like the idea because the electronic versions are less expensive over time and are thought to be less damaging to your health by cutting out toxins found in traditional cigarettes.

Although e-smokers are still getting nicotine, e-cigarettes release a vapor that resembles smoke.

Karina DiLuzio, Tobacco Intervention Specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, tells KARE 11 that she gives e-cigs a "thumbs down."

DiLuzio says nicotine causes veins to constrict, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood.

Also, since e-cigs are not regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration, there's no telling what chemicals they contain that might harm the body.

"There is still a lot we don't know about them," she told KARE. "What you're inhaling is going past metal that's vaporizing a chemical. There are chemical reactions that are happening."

The World Health Organization made a statement earlier this week, also advising against e-cigs. The UN body pointed to the presence of large concentrations of propylene glycol in e-cigarettes, saying that the chemical is a known irritant when inhaled.

WHO also says e-cigs need further study.

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