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E-Cigarettes Spark Hot Debate Among Health Experts

scyther5/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- E-cigarettes: the answer to anti-smokers' prayers or a slippery slope to regular cigarettes?

The health community is divided, according to The New York Times.

Since making their appearance on the national scene several years ago, the use of e-cigarettes has become as hotly debated a topic as what should be done to curb the smoking of tobacco, which is blamed for about 480,000 preventable deaths every year in this county.

For instance, public health researcher Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University contends that more people puffing on e-cigarettes reduces the number of Americans who either smoke regular cigarettes now or might turn to them in the future.

Siegel and others like him believe that those who decry the use of e-cigarettes should be more open to giving them a chance since they eliminate the tar that provides the real threat to smokers.

Yet, since e-cigarettes are still a relatively new phenomenon, studies on the actual danger they may pose to users is limited.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is in the camp that finds nothing positive about e-cigarettes.

Glantz, a former teacher of Siegel, maintains, "E-cigarettes seem like a good idea but they aren’t," pointing out that little evidence exists that proves their use is helping many regular smokers to make the switch to the device that provides a nicotine fix.

He and other like-thinking health experts argue that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to tobacco for those who want a stronger kick, especially among the young. Glantz says that about half of the population today was never exposed to ads for regular cigarettes and seeing TV commercials for e-cigarettes gives him a sick feeling all over again.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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