Using an e-cigarette, or vaping, is causing a stir across our nation. Some cities treat it like smoking, while others exempt it from tobacco laws. But what should be done if vaping can improve someone's health?
That’s what one Nampa resident claims. Girnie Brown has smoked for forty years. As a result he has trouble breathing.
He describes his breathing like this: "if anybody wanted to imagine it, just reach up and stick your thumb about that deep in your throat and then push, and hold it there for five minutes."
The Vietnam veteran normally has two inhalers to help him breathe easier, but sometimes his inhalers run out. Girnie says using a e-cigarette helps him.
"it's not as good as the inhaler but it does allow me to breathe," Girnie said.
E-cigarettes work by turning a water-based liquid into vapor. It is breathing in these water vapors that Girnie argues his lungs get clearer and makes breathing easier.
"The menthol actually helps my bronchial tubes open up to where I can breathe fairly comfortably," he said.
On a recent trip to the Veterans Affairs Hospital to refill his inhalers, Girnie says he had trouble breathing. When he started vaping, VA workers said not in here.
A spokesperson for the VA said its policy on vaping is the same as smoking. Smoking is only allowed in designated areas, the same goes for vaping.
While the effects of smoking are well-known, the jury is still out on vaping. A video provided by Saint Alphonsus shows healthy lungs. The airways are clear and moist.
Years of smoking and age leave Girnie's lungs coated in plague and constricted. It makes sense that inhaling water vapor would help Girnie breathe, but a doctor from St. Luke's who wants to remain anonymous says it is doubtful vaping would have a substantial benefit.
Girnie isn't convinced. "It may be harmful to me. We don't know?"
The FDA has not made any rulings on vaping. Some studies have shown e-cigarettes could release second-hand nicotine, but none of the cancer causing chemicals found in traditional cigarettes.