What is an E-Cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a device that heats and vaporizes a liquid that contains nicotine designed to mimic the experience of smoking a conventional cigarette. They are a new product – less than 10 years old, there are more than 250 brands. The Ingredients, flavorants (chemicals and natural flavors used to flavor the products), and amount of nicotine delivered vary widely across brands.
As of April 24, 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) issued a proposed rule that would extend the agency’s authorities to cover additional products that include: electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvables that are not “smokeless tobacco,” nicotine gels, and waterpipe (hookah) tobacco. E-Cigarettes are entirely unregulated at this time. The FDA has not yet evaluated the safety of e-cigarettes.
Are E-Cigarettes Safe?
- There is no scientific information on long-term health effects.
- Most people agree that an individual who totally switches from conventional (burnt) cigarettes to e-cigarettes probably reduces his/her health risks
- At least one study has documented acute pulmonary dysfunction among a sample of e-cigarette users (Vardavas CI, Anagnostopoulos N, Kougias M, Evangelopoulou V; Connolly GN, Behrakis PK. Short-term Pulmonary Effects of Using an Electronic Cigarette: Impact on Respiratory Flow Resistance, Impedance, and Exhaled Nitric Oxide. Chest. 2012;141(6):1400-1406.)
- Poison Center Calls have increased as a result of exposure to liquid nicotine by infants/toddlers. This occurs when adults purchase the ‘refillable vaping’ pen and or refillable electronic cigarette and the refill piece is ingested by the child.
Can E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Tobacco?
Studies on e-cigarettes as a quitting aid for nicotine addiction and cigarette use are few, with mixed and modest results. Some show that they are about equal in effectiveness to that of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – like the nicotine patch. The best way to quit is to use quit line counseling and FDA-approved medications.
- The health effects of e-cigarette use are not known, but e-cigarettes are likely safer than combustible tobacco products
- The ultimate goal must be to quit traditional (burning tobacco) cigarette use in order to protect your health
- Dual use (using both products) is not a good long-term goal