TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The Food and Drug Administration is considering outlawing the online sale of the increasingly popular device called electronic cigarettes.
The FDA said the e-cigarette could potentially cause major health problems, but according to a recent Nielson Convenience Store study, sales could possibly hit one billion this year and shows no sign of slowing down.
We all know how harmful cigarettes are, but what about electronic cigarettes?
Are they completely safe?
North Mississippi Medical Center Doctor Keith Box said, "No. They're not."
"There's not a lot of data that shows e-cigarettes actually help you quit smoking to begin with," Box said.
An e-cigarette is an electronic water vapor inhaler infused with nicotine and is used as a substitute for tobacco, but Box said despite the appeal and the marketing behind the so called "safe alternative," many questions remain as to how safe e-cigarettes actually are.
"There is approximately ten things that are in e-cigarette water vapor that could potentially cause cancer," Box said.
"That does contribute to some of the doubt about the safety of e-cigarettes.")
He said there's little data available on the long term effects of using e-cigarettes, but he said if one must have that nicotine fix, electronic is much safer than the alternative.
"The e-cigarette would be safer based just on the nicotine," he said. "You wouldn't be getting the tobacco toxins."
But when compared to all nicotine products, Box recommends the nicotine patch.
WTVA wondered what people in the community thought of electronic cigarettes, so we asked smokers what they thought of the popular method.
"I really don't think I get the satisfaction like I do with my tobacco," said smoker Dorothy Merritt. "I think I should stick with the regular."
Another smoker we asked said there, "Ain't enough smoke in 'em."
"I get the same effect," said electronic cigarette user Ausie Hubbard. "It don't have all that smoke in it that bothers people who are around you while you do it, so I recommend it."
Dr. Box said the method is still fairly new, so time will only tell how harmful they actually are.
"I'm the kind of person that you don't just tell me it works," he explained. "Show me data that it works. Right now, there's no data that smoking e-cigarettes actually work and are safe for you."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the FDA will formally unveil its proposals on the online e-cigarette ban in October.