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For several years now, electronic cigarettes have been touted as a safer alternative than tobacco products.

The manufacturers and retailers also say they can be a key factor in quitting smoking altogether.

But more and more evidence is indicating vaping devices might not be as safe as previously thought.

The latest comes in a warning this week from the Arkansas Department of Health.

So far, the Natural State has seen four cases of lung disease that may be tied to vaping.

Across the country, more than 200 cases of suspected vaping-related lung disease have been reported, including one fatality.

Symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue and chest pain. If you vape and experience these symptoms, the ADH encourages you to seek medical care.

The fact is no one can say for sure what the health risks are for vaping. The technology is just too new to have been thoroughly studied. We have no doubt that some folks have used e-cigarettes to finally quite smoking. If that's your goal, then possibly there is some merit. But if you are looking to continue the nicotine habit, it's not conclusive that vaping is all that much safer.

The best course is simply to never start smoking or vaping. And the second-best thing to do is just quit completely.

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