The use of e cigarettes has surged since smoking bans came into place.

In the UK, there are an estimated 1.3m users, compared with 9m smokers.

But what exactly are e cigarettes?

E cigarettes come in two parts in one end there is liquid nicotine, and in the other a rechargeable battery and an atomiser.

When the user sucks, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth.

What looks like smoke is largely water vapour, hence smoking e cigarettes is often called vaping.

As the e cigarettes contain nicotine, the user gets the hit that makes smoking addictive, without being harmed by the toxins found in real cigarettes.

So are they safe, then?

The British Medical Association says the simple answer is that we don’t yet know, pointing out that only long term research can determine that.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will regulate e cigarettes as medicines from 2016.

Part of the reasoning for this move was that there was concern the e cigarettes currently on the market did not meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy.

The regulator has said “levels of contamination” have been found in some products and others have been poorly manufactured.

However, there is a consensus that they are certainly less harmful than smoking tobacco, which is responsible for 100,000 deaths a year in the UK.

Should smokers use them to quit?

They are not recommended by the NHS yet, but there is some evidence they may help.

A team at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, last year released the results of the first clinical trial comparing the devices with nicotine patches.

The results, published in the Lancet, showed 7.3% using e cigarettes had quit after six months compared with 5.8% using patches.

What is more, after six months, 57% of e cigarette users had halved the number of cigarettes smoked each day compared with 41% among those using patches.

However, the study did not involve enough people just 657 to prove definitively which is the better option.

There are also concerns that the increase in popularity of e cigarettes could act as a gateway to smoking, particularly for young people.

The Local Government Association has been critical of the way they appear to be marketed at children through social media and the sale of fruit flavoured versions.

Are they not covered by legislation?

Not a great deal. The UK like many countries is playing catch up.

Earlier this year ministers in England said they would ban the sale of e cigarettes to under 18s. Similar legislation is being considered elsewhere in the UK.

Wales is also considering a proposal to ban the use of them in public places to mirror the law covering real cigarettes. Some companies, including train firms, airlines and the pub chain JD Wetherspoon, have taken the step themselves.

Other countries have gone even further. Brazil, Singapore and Mexico have banned importing and selling the devices, even though tobacco is still on sale in all those countries.

Fabiola santiago: e-cigarettes bring threat of new addiction for kids – fabiola santiago –

Marlboro cigarettes 1920s. duty free price cigarettes australia. cigarettes shop ‘cheap cigarettes 24×7′

The other day I drove by a young man wildly waving a large red sign on a grassy median, the kind of mobile advertising one sees during tax season.

Only the happy go lucky hipster wasn&#x2019 t egging on people to meet the deadline on taxes, but peddling the prospect of addiction, illness, and death.

He was directing attention to the sale of e cigarettes at a gas station convenience store &#x2013 only steps away from a middle school.

For the uninitiated, electronic cigarettes are the tobacco industry&#x2019 s latest bad for you product.

With a trendy name and cigarette likeness, the battery operated device that turns liquid nicotine into an odorless, smoke like vapor has all the trappings of a sales hit among teenagers. So it&#x2019 s not surprising that e cigarette use has more than doubled among middle and high school students in the span of one year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

What adults do with their bodies might be their business, but what they push on our children is ours.

You might not be able to smell the tobacco less e cigarettes, but they contain nicotine and have the potential to be harmful. By the time a study comes along to confirm that this, too, kills, and the lawsuits follow, the tobacco industry has already made oodles of money on the addicted.

Death may be as inevitable as taxes, but who wants to hurry it along? Who wants an impressionable child hooked for life?

Cities and county governments around the state recognized the dangers of e cigarettes and places like Miami, Weston and Sunrise passed ordinances banning their sale to minors. Miami Dade County passed an ordinance banning smoking them in government buildings &#x2013 and a resolution supporting a state initiative to ban sales to minors.

But since the county passed that resolution, an amendment has been added to the bill working its way through the Florida Legislature that&#x2019 s nothing short of a betrayal of the local governments that acted quickly to protect the youth in their turf.

&#x201C We&#x2019 re not trying to ban them, just trying to keep kids from being exposed and saying they should go behind the shelves,&#x201D Commissioner Barbara Jordan told me Tuesday. &#x201C It&#x2019 s putting the electorate first.&#x201D

But as the legislature has done with gun laws to please the powerful NRA lobby, the amendment seeks to ban local governments from passing tobacco and e cigarette laws, in deference to the tobacco lobby &#x2013 a major contributor to political campaigns.

Bill sponsor Rep. Frank Artiles, R Miami, calls the amendment a &#x201C compromise&#x201D and says he hasn&#x2019 t been swayed by the tobacco lobby &#x2013 but it sure looks like it.

The move has put anti smoking groups in the awkward position of working to kill what was originally an anti smoking bill.

Perhaps Artiles and his colleagues need a little reminder of how constituents feel. A Miami Herald online poll taken in February when the City of Miami voted on the issue shows overwhelming support &#x2013 87 percent &#x2013 for banning the sale of e cigarettes to minors.

As for the young man peddling e cigarettes and getting thumbs down from drivers, he worked the gig on and off for a few days &#x2013 and then, he was gone.

Good riddance.

The last thing our vulnerable children need is another addiction to pull them down.