Smoke Out the Truth on E-Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, might be a popular new way to cut back on traditional cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Even though these devices don’t use tobacco, they still contain nicotine—a highly addictive drug.
What Are They?
Electronic cigarettes can look like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens, or even USB memory sticks. During a process called vaping, users inhale the vapor of a heated liquid. Vaping has become more popular among people of all ages—particularly among teens and smokers looking for an alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Think They’re Safe? Stub Out That Thought
Some studies suggest e-cigarettes might be less harmful than cigarettes when people who regularly smoke switch to them as a complete replacement. And some companies market them as a tool to help smokers quit. But doctors and health experts aren’t sure.
On one hand, the vapors do not contain the same harmful chemicals as tobacco smoke. But e-cigarette users still breathe in addictive nicotine and other harmful substances, such as cancer-causing agents. And there is no conclusive scientific evidence on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for long-term smoking cessation.
Another problem: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates a variety of products (including medications and tobacco products), hasn’t approved them as a way to help smokers quit.
The Bottom Line: Use Other Quitting Methods
Doctors still have much to learn about the effects of e-cigarettes on the human body and the environment. If you want to stop smoking, talk with your doctor about ways that are proven to help, such as nicotine replacement products. You don’t have to quit cold turkey.