DANVILLE — While proponents of electronic cigarettes rave about the benefits, health officials and others are skeptical about the long-term effects.
Some people are concerned that: the contents of the devices can be poisonous if they fall into children’s hands; that users will become or stay addicted to nicotine; that not enough information is available about the ingredients used in e-cigarettes; and that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved them.
Tobacco smokers often turn to e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking, as the devices offer lower levels of nicotine without all of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes.
One local man, however, had an adverse reaction to e-cigarettes.
Lee Bennett, 48, of Alvin started smoking when he was 10 years old and eventually smoked up to three packs a day. He also used chewing tobacco, but stopped that several years ago. In November 2013, he switched to e-cigarettes to stop smoking.
The first few weeks went fine, he said, but then he started getting sick in January. His blood pressure and sugar levels were going haywire, and he developed an internal infection.
Bennett, who has diabetes and heart disease, called the consumer information number that came with the e-cigarettes, and also saw his doctor.
He was told that the propylene glycol (a food-grade ingredient used in the liquid part of the e-cig) was affecting his blood sugar, and that he should stop using the devices.
“I’m all for people quitting smoking,” he said, but added that users with health problems should know it can affect glucose readings, resulting in dizziness and blackouts. He suggested people with health issues check with their doctor first and also call the consumer line to find out if the ingredients could interact with certain medications.
He said he has a friend in Ambia, Ind., with diabetes who had the same reaction.