Lara writes: "You've spoken about cigarettes a couple of times in the last few weeks. I was wondering what your thoughts/feelings are on electronic cigarettes? They advertise that there is no harm to them, just water vapor. Is that true?"
You're right. There has been a lot of news and a lot of controversy over electronic cigarettes. Part of the problem is that sellers of these products make claims ranging from being a healthier version of cigarettes, to a great way to stop smoking. Unfortunately, these e-cigarettes are not regulated and although they claim to contain ingredients different from cigarettes, you are still inhaling a substance into your lungs and no on e is sure of their long-term effects. Plus, most of them do contain nicotine, which is very addictive and the fear is this could lead to cigarette smoking later on. If you are using this as a cigarette substitute, your best bet is to do what you can to stop smoking completely.
Alan from Colorado Springs: "I heard a brief report on pipe and cigar smoking being just as bad as cigarette smoking. Could you expand on this?"
Although cigarette smoking is by far the worst of the tobacco culprits, cigar and pipe smoking aren't much better. Studies have shown that although cigar smoking causes less lung cancer than cigarettes, it is worse for cancers of the mouth and esophagus. Pipe smoking also causes lung cancer, although the rates seem to be lower than that of cigarettes. But, the bottom line is that tobacco is bad for your health no matter which way it's used.