The electronic or e-cigarette is not a safe alternative to smoking.
Electronic or e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
E-cigarettes are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness, and have not been approved to help people quit smoking.
Concerns About Electronic Cigarettes
The FDA has conducted limited laboratory testing on sample products. The results of testing indicated a lack of quality measures as well as inconsistent nicotine levels in products labeled identically. The FDA is attempting to work with electronic cigarette companies to ensure consumer safety at this time.
Quitting Electronic Cigarettes
There are a number of FDA-approved smoking cessation aids that are safe and effective, including nicotine gum, nicotine skin patches, nicotine lozenges, nicotine oral inhaled products, and nicotine nasal spray that are available for smokers to use to reduce their dependence on nicotine.
Amy Lukowski, PsyD, MPH, oversees a tobacco quitline at National Jewish Health in Denver that services 12 states. Lukowski says her counselors field calls from up to 22,000 people a month who are already addicted to nicotine, and she is worried those numbers will only grow because of the rapid rise in popularity of e-cigarettes.
There have been no efforts to regulate the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes, some of which contain several times the amount currently found in other tobacco products. Lukowski says e-cigarettes are heavily marketed to adolescents, who are more vulnerable to nicotine addiction than adults.
E-Cigarettes Helping Spark New iSmoke Generation
New York has become the latest big city in the U.S. to ban the use of e-cigarettes in most public places. Chicago and Los Angeles are on board, too. But critics of the ban say e-cigarettes can actually be helpful to those who are trying to quit smoking and are practically harmless to everyone else. But not everyone agrees.
More Information on E-Cigarettes
The vaporized nicotine is combined with propylene glycol, which the user then inhales in a manner similar to smoking a cigarette. When the user exhales (vaping), the vapor contains mainly the propylene glycol, which looks like smoke from a cigarette.