Nicole Crumley grew up in tobacco country, and tried her first cigarette when she was barely out of middle school. “It’s kind of what you did in the South, when you’re 13 years old. I think things are a little different down here,” she told correspondent Tony Dokoupil. For the next 20 years, she couldn’t kick the habit: “I tried the gum, I tried the patches, I’ve tried the lozenges, and none of that stuff worked.” What ultimately did work is vaping.
Crumley uses an e-cigarette, or vaporizer – an electronic device that heats what’s called an “e-liquid” containing nicotine, but producing vapor, not smoke.
“I immediately realized I was feeling better,” Crumley said. “I could breathe better. It doesn’t take long for your lungs to kind of heal themselves.”
Dokoupil asked, “Did you feel like there were changes going in your lungs?”
“I did,” she replied. “I wasn’t coughing when I woke up in the morning any more. That was a big thing. I think a lot of smokers go through that: They cough as soon as they wake up. I wasn’t doing that any more, and I haven’t done that since.”
Crumley is now hoping to share that feeling and, she’s convinced, help save lives, as a volunteer for an advocacy group called the Tennessee Smoke-Free Association.
But e-cigarettes are winning over more than just former smokers. In fact, they are gaining cautious support from a growing number of public health experts. In June no less than the American Cancer Society noted that while the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are “not known,” they are “markedly less harmful” than traditional smoking.
If you’re still skeptical, well, there’s good reason: for decades tobacco companies used misleading science to sell cigarettes and smoking first as safe, and then as safer.
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