Whether it's a matter of convenience, flavor or a sense that it's less harmful than traditional cigarettes, more and more people -- especially millennials -- are turning to vaping.

Whether it's a matter of convenience, flavor or a sense that it's less harmful than traditional cigarettes, more and more people -- especially millennials -- are turning to vaping.

Yet, before people turn on their electronic cigarettes, the jury's still out on the overall health effects from the alternative form of smoking, one Ohio State University official says.

Liz Klein, an associate professor of tobacco control at OSU, said because the technology is fairly new, the data don't paint a clear picture on the long-term e-cigarette vapors have on the body.

"There's very strong evidence that e-cigarettes are safer than combustible (cigarettes)," Klein said. "But it does not necessarily mean it's harmless or safe."

Statistics from a wide variety of sources suggest e-cigarettes do not help with smoke-cessation activities, she said.

And nicotine consumed from the devices has a number of potentially harmful elements, such as cadmium, nickel and formaldehyde, although in much lower levels than traditional forms of smokable tobacco.

The e-liquid components contain humectants, such as propylene glycol, a Federal Drug Administration-approved food additive that has been shown to cause eye, throat and airway irritation, and, when burned at high temperatures, known carcinogens form and could increase the risk of asthma, Klein said.

Another humectant, vegetable glycerin, produces similar effects as propylene glycol, but repeated or long-term inhalation safety risks are unknown, she said.

Health officials also contend that e-cigarettes are not a successful smoke-cessation tool. Compared to those who didn't use e-cigs for cessation, people who did use e-cigs to quit smoking had 28 percent lower odds of success. In other words, e-cigarettes were less likely to help people quit smoking compared to people who didn't use them.

Klein presented her findings last week to Columbus Public Health.

She said the results of various studies continue to come in because e-cigarettes are fairly new, having been introduced in the United States in 2007.

What has become apparent is that vaping is most attractive to young people. What isn't clear is whether using e-cigarettes leads to harder drugs or, demographically, who's using them the most.

The devices, which heat up a cartridge that produces inhalable vapors -- either with or without nicotine -- are permissible in most public places in the state of Ohio and beyond.

Cities throughout the country, however, are raising the age of purchasing tobacco -- which includes e-cigarettes -- to 21.

In Ohio, Cleveland is the biggest city to enact such legislation. Locally, Bexley, Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington have done the same. Eight states restrict e-cigarette use in 100 percent of smoke-free venues.

Columbus Public Health has not proposed raising the legal limit to 21. Such legislation would have to be passed by City Council.

"We are currently looking at how other cities have implemented the law successfully and furthermore enforce it," said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for the health agency.