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The American Heart Association issued its official policy recommendation on e-cigarettes Monday, endorsing them as a last-resort method of quitting traditional cigarettes.

Despite growing in popularity over the past decade, e-cigarettes remain somewhat of a curiosity. To provide a little more understanding of e-cigarettes and the process of smoking them known as vaping, here are answers to some common questions:

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are battery operated inhalers that consist of a rechargeable battery, a cartridge called a cartomizer and an LED that lights up at the end when you puff on the device.

What is vaping?

Vaping is defined as the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette. When users draw on the device, the battery heats the liquid, which is then atomized into an inhalable vapor.

Is vaping safer than traditional smoking?

E-cigarettes differ from traditional cigarettes in that they do not contain carcinogens such as arsenic and vinyl chloride, according to a report in the Seattle Times. Additionally, there is no secondhand smoke associated with vaping.

Do e-cigarettes contain nicotine?

Yes.

What is in the liquid (or juice) inhaled?

The main components of a cartridge of "juice" are nicotine, propylene glycol, solvents and flavors.

Are e-cigarettes regulated?

No

Does vaping help smokers quit?

In a study published in the medical journal Lancet, researchers compared e-cigarettes to nicotine patches and other smoking cessation methods and found them statistically comparable in helping smokers quit over a six-month period.

What is the cost of vaping?

In reviewing the online shop of the Vapor Parlor in Folsom, the vaping devices, or mods, run anywhere from $28 to $265. The flavored juices are priced between $11 and $60 depending on size and selection.

What are the health risks of vaping?

Thomas Glynn, the director of science and trends at the American Cancer Society, said there were always risks when one inhaled anything other than fresh, clean air, but he said there was a great likelihood that e-cigarettes would prove considerably less harmful than traditional cigarettes, at least in the short term. Due to the relative recency in the popularity of vaping, the long-term effects of vaping have yet to be analyzed.

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