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Life insurers treat e-cigs just like other cigarettes

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Does puffing on an e-cigarette count as smoking? As far as life insurance companies are concerned, it does.

A lot of smoke is blown in the running battle over electronic cigarettes. Companies selling e-cigs are promoting them as quitting aides or less harmful alternatives to burning tobacco. Public health advocates urging tighter restrictions say the nicotine vaporizers may carry unknown risks and turn children on to old-fashioned cigarettes. A good way to clear the haze is to ask the insurance companies that actually have money riding on the long-term health effects of vaping.

Life insurers, in particular, charge smokers more because smokers have higher mortality rates—cigarette use take 10 years off life expectancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And so far, the companies aren’t making much distinction between vaping and lighting up.