SPECIAL REPORT: Stomp out Smoking - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

SPECIAL REPORT: Stomp out Smoking

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(WTVM) -

It only takes a few puffs of a cigarette to get addicted to nicotine.

Eddie McWilliams has been smoking for 10 years and it's been a battle to kick the habit.

"I've tried the patches, the pills, and just plain out stopping," he said.

Then he decided to give 21st Century electronic cigarettes – or ecigarettes – a try, and News Leader 9's Chandi Lowry followed him for about a week to see how things went.

Ecigarettes are the newest way people manage to stop smoking, and they look like real cigarettes at first. They don't use smoke; instead, they use water vapor with little or no nicotine.

Doctors claim ecigarettes can be safer because they don't have ingredients like tar that normal tobacco products contain.

The cravings were still there the first day, but after the second day McWilliams got rid of his regular cigarettes and said he likes the ecigarettes better.

"It gave me a challenge," McWilliams said. "I had to challenge myself so with me challenging myself I took my cigarettes and gave them to my sister."

McWilliams explained it's helping him live a healthier life.

"Yes, it's helping me cut back, and yes I think I will stop smoking," he said.

Dr. Sharan Sekhon said that quitting smoking is more of a mental addiction than physical so she supports the ecigarettes.

"It is tricking your brain kind of. You feel like you're smoking, you satisfy that feeling that you want to do that you satisfy it, and it's positive feedback and what it does to your brain," Dr. Sekhon said.  

David Fletcher, who is part of the American Cancer Society's Fresh Start Series, said people who think smoking helps calm themselves down need to think again.

"They believe that smoking helps them manage stress, but physiologically that's not really true because it elevates your heart rate and does harm to your body with tar, nicotine and the carcinogenic things that are in cigarettes," Fletcher said.  

Fletcher showed News Leader 9 a pig lung, which is extremely similar to a human one. The smoker's lung is grey and can barely expand compared to the healthy lung, which is pink and expands like a balloon.

The reason a person would be able to breathe better is because the lung doesn't have stuff like sticky tar all over it like a smoker's lung.

A smoker also has to deal with losing years off of their lives, but smokers can live longer and get their senses back if they stop now.

But quitting is no simple task. Fletcher said nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine and alcohol and told the story of an elderly woman who has turned her life around in fresh start.

"She said ‘amen brother. I quit heroin 40 years ago and the whole class the mouths dropped,'" Fletcher claimed. "Then she said ‘I quit cocaine 20 years ago. I quit drinking 10 years ago but I can't quit smoking.'"

That's why there are gums, patches and even prescribed medicines like Chantix to stomp out smoking.

Although electronic cigarettes seem to work for some people, not all of them are approved by the FDA and some folks worry they could actually encourage people like teens to start smoking.

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