DALLAS -- Carly Gay has been addicted to cigarettes for 10 years. But now she's five months' pregnant with her second child.
"I have tried to stop since I started smoking, and it is next to impossible," she said.
Gay smoked the most potent of cigarettes, a pack a day. She knew her baby couldn't handle that.
That's why she tried electronic cigarettes, which vaporize chemicals to be inhaled — including nicotine.
But Gay says, at least with vaporizing, she can reduce how much nicotine goes in her body.
"The doctors advise you that quitting cold turkey can cause a lot of stress on you and the baby," she said. "It's better to cut back than quit cold turkey."
Dr. Sheila Chhutani, with Texas Health Dallas, disagrees with that analysis; she says stopping right away is best.
"Just quitting does not hurt the baby," she said.
In fact, Dr. Chhutani said stopping in the first three months is the most important.
"I tell them to give it up, just like alcohol. I tell them to stop," she said.
But Gay did smoke nicotine-infused e-cigarettes in her first trimester. She started with a higher dose of the chemical and then began to scale it back.
Now she's nicotine-free, and yet not missing out on that smoking sensation.
"When you inhale it, you can feel a hit in your lungs," she said. "That's what us smokers like about smoking is we get that inhale. It's strong. It feels good."
She can switch flavors; there are dozens from which to choose.
And she still smokes a lot, taking up to 50 inhalations a day, leaving her open to snap judgment from people seeing a pregnant woman "smoking."
"Maybe they should do their research before they get judgmental," Gay said. "It's a lot better than smoking a cigarette, that's for sure."
"I would rather you do the e-cigarettes and just have the nicotine than the nicotine plus," Dr. Chhutani said.
Why? Your average cigarette has more than 4,000 chemicals, and more than 60 of those are known to cause cancer.
The e-cig has four chemicals — and that's if you decide to add in the nicotine.
But the FDA warns there is little research available on vaporizing like this, and the effects it could have on the human body.
But Gay said she is not concerned about that, and she feels improvement.
"I can breathe now; that really helps," she said. "I can go for a jog, a slow jog now. I don't run out of breath anymore."
And after a decade of trying to quit smoking, Carly Gay said inhaling this way is a great substitute — especially while caring for two.