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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

g cover

E-cigarettes: Threat or therapy?

Are e-cigarettes less harmful than real cigarettes? Advocates say they help smokers quit. But health officials aren’t so sure.

Valerie Schwaber smoked cigarettes while wearing the nicotine patch. It didn’t curb her cravings. The gum caused her heart to race. Acupuncture had no effect either.

Then Schwaber, a 29-year-old emergency medical technician from Lexington who smoked as much as three packs a day, tried electronic cigarettes. The battery-operated vaporizers, often shaped like a cigarette, use flavored liquids to deliver a dose of nicotine with each draw. She hasn’t smoked for more than two years.

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