tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Electronic cigarettes: healthy or harmful?

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - You may have heard them advertised on the radio or seen them at the mall. Electronic cigarettes are being sold as a healthier way to smoke. They’ve been here in the U.S. for about the past year, but originated in China. The ads say electronic cigarettes deliver only nicotine, and not all the other toxins in traditional cigarettes. But the FDA isn’t sure of that yet.

For decades, we’ve heard about the toxic effects of smoking cigarettes. So a new kind of cigarette that doesn’t produce smoke, but only water vapor and nicotine sounds like the perfect solution.

“I mean, it still contains nicotine, so while it is still very addicting, we’ve eliminated tar, carbon monoxide, toxins, poisons, almost all 4,000 chemicals, everything that’s bad in a cigarette, leaving the one thing a smoker wants- nicotine,” says Andrew Smart, owner of Smoking Everywhere Missouri.

Smart has been selling the electronic cigarette in the Battlefield Mall in Springfield for about a year. “Sales are amazing. They’ve been amazing since day one,” Smart says.

Smart says he sells the product, because it sold him. “I haven’t smoked a cigarette in almost a year, I’ve lost almost 100 pounds, and haven’t used my inhaler in over eight months,” says Smart.

Jennie Megown got her e-cigarette last September. After smoking for 30 years, she was up to a pack a day, and is now enjoying the benefits of her switch. “I don’t cough anymore. I don’t smell like a cigarette any longer. It’s just nice. It’s smooth; it’s different than smoking a cigarette, but yet, it’s the same,” says Megown.

With no smell and no smoke, e-cigarette users feel like they can smoke anywhere, anytime. But with different levels of nicotine available, Megown has actually cut back. “I’ve gradually just cut down where I’m on the lowest form now,” Megown says.

It sounds like a win win situation, but health experts say, not so fast. “Well, it potentially is, but we don’t know all the facts yet,” says Springfield Doctor Jim Blaine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that lab tests on e-cigarette samples revealed carcinogens along with the nicotine. In one cartridge, tests also found the toxic chemical diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.

“Most of these compounds are manufactured in China. They’re not overseen by the FDA, and it remains to be seen what’s really in them,” says Blaine.

Smart says his products contain a much safer, FDA approved ingredient, propylene glycol. “It’s used in many of the foods we eat every day- fish, beer, bacon, potato chips. Furthermore, it’s found in baby wipes and baby powder,” says Smart.

But Blaine says the claim of no first-hand or second-hand toxins by the various e-cigarette companies is premature.
“I think it is inappropriate for them to advertise that until the studies are done, and if there is second hand nicotine and other chemicals that are in the fluid, then that needs to be studied before they’re released and not after, but that’s not happened,” Blaine says.

Another ingredient Doctor Blaine has issue with is not something toxic, but tasty. “It’s electronic, it’s expensive, it’s something that has flavors to it- everything from banana split to chocolate. That’s not for many adults; that’s clearly for children,” says Blaine.

Smart’s kiosk at Battlefield Mall does offer dozens of flavors, but clearly displays, you must be 18 to purchase. “I find that the preference for flavor is universal and it’s not age specific,” says Smart.

Whether electronic cigarettes are a better way to smoke, even quit, or more harm than good, is still up for debate.

“In my opinion, it’s just a healthier way to smoke,” says Smart.

“It may or may not be, but at this point, we don’t know the dangers,” says Blaine.

Smart says he does not sell his products as a way to quit smoking, just an alternative. He says his company and others are working with the FDA to help regulate the electronic cigarette.

Smart says smokers are saving money too. He sells the e-cigarettes at his kiosk for $99.95. He says the liquid nicotine that comes with the starter kit equals about fifty packs of cigarettes. E-cigarettes are also promoted as a fire-safe way to smoke.

By Linda Russell, KY3 News

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