'Bootleg' e-cigarettes behind vaping illnesses?

New York has officially banned most flavored e-cigarettes since vaping-related deaths started to come to light. E-cigarette popularity has been growing within a younger community as a recreational activity.

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But the original function of e-cigarettes was to act as a nicotine replacement for those suffering from addiction.

“I've always used these e-cigarettes [for patients] to get them off cigarettes,” Dr. Marc Siegel said Wednesday on FOX Business’ “Varney & Co.” “A study out of the New England Journal of Medicine this year shows that it works better than any other nicotine replacement product -- better than the gum, better than the patch. Now, they all work for different groups of people but I need it in my arsenal. I need it in my bag of tricks.”

As the government’s vice tightens on regulating e-cigarettes, the root of the issue remains: e-cigarettes are not being used for their intended purpose and are endangering the lives of teens and young adults.

“Three [Juul] pods a day—that's the equivalent of three packs of cigarettes.”

- Dr. Marc Siegel

“Flavors are the problem," Dr. Siegel said. "The federal government, because of a law passed in 2009, has every right to ban flavored e-cigarettes from the market. We are heading in that direction. And you know why? Because when teens were surveyed this year, they said ‘we're doing this because of the flavors’ and most of them didn't even know there was nicotine in this product.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a conversation with Siegel, indicated most unregulated products -- laced with THC and other carcinogens -- are what is causing an increase in related illnesses.

“The Centers for Disease Control … without being definitive, has basically indicated to me that it's the unregulated product, it's the bootleg product ... it's the product that's not being controlled [that's causing the problem],” Siegel said. “It's not the Juul or the one that's on the market. It’s the one that has THC in it. Most of them have cannabis oil or marijuana-type products.”

"They’re being bought illicitly. There's no control on this kind of a product. This is probably where the diseases are coming from and people are getting quite sick."

- Dr. Marc Siegel

Regulation of these products continues to be of conversation and concern as health risks come to light.

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“The bottom line: whatever ends up on the market should not be for kids," Siegel concluded. "It should be for recalcitrant smokers and it needs to be highly regulated so we know what's in it."