London: Electronic cigarettes, which are being touted as the latest ``stop smoking`` device, are facing a ban in New York as debate rages whether they are a miracle cure or a menace.
These battery-powered sticks are filled with a nicotine or non-nicotine solution that is heated and inhaled as a vapour.
Advocates say they provide a stepping-stone to quitting and give the sensation of smoking without taking in the carcinogens and 1,000 chemicals found in tobacco.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, who studied the device, said that it had great potential in reducing the harm of smoking.
“We conclude that electronic cigarettes show tremendous promise in the fight against tobacco-related morbidity and mortality,” the Daily Mail quoted scientists as saying in the Journal of Public Health Policy.
However, an argument is brewing in the US about whether they represent a new miracle cure or menace to public safety.
Some health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early and legally on smoking.
Last year, Dr Edward Langston, of the American Medical Association said: “Very little data exists on the safety of e-cigarettes, and the FDA has warned that they are potentially addicting and contain harmful toxins.”
He added: “The fact that they come in fruit and candy flavors gives them the potential to entice new nicotine users, especially teens.”
Meanwhile New York lawmakers are considering introducing the first state ban on the device.
Democrat Linda Rosenthal, or the New York Assembly, said: “I got interested in this because I saw all these ads for e-cigarettes, so I did some research.
“I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery.”
The former smoker wants to ban e-cigarettes in New York until they are more thoroughly investigated and regulated.