Electronic Cigarettes - Adventist HealthCare

Electronic Cigarettes

Topic Overview

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapor that you inhale. These cigarettes are often called e-cigarettes. Many of them are made to look like real cigarettes. Some have a light at the end that glows when you inhale.

E-cigarettes may help satisfy nicotine cravings for adults who are trying to stop smoking. But the nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive. And they do contain small amounts of harmful chemicals.

How do electronic cigarettes work?

E-cigarettes have three main parts.

  1. The mouthpiece has a cartridge. The cartridge contains liquid nicotine.
  2. A heating element turns the liquid into a vapor when you inhale.
  3. A battery provides power to the heating element.

A chemical in the vapor turns it white so that it looks like smoke, even when you exhale.

Electronic cigars and pipes are also available.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

More research is needed before experts can say for sure whether e-cigarettes are safer than real cigarettes.

The cartridges contain different levels of nicotine. So you could try lowering the nicotine levels over time until you no longer crave nicotine. This is why some people use e-cigarettes as aids to quitting smoking. Experts agree that there is not enough evidence to recommend using e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules for e-cigarettes, including required health warnings, no sales to those younger than 18, and no free samples. It is now more common for teens and young adults to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes. Any product that contains nicotine is especially unsafe for this age group.

An e-cigarette cartridge contains a high concentration of nicotine that, if ingested, can be very poisonous or even fatal. Keep these cartridges out of the reach of children.

If you are thinking about using e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking, talk to your doctor first.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Flouris AD, Oikonomou DN (2010). Electronic cigarettes: Miracle or menace? BMJ, 340: c311.
  • Yamin CK, et al. (2010). E-cigarettes: A rapidly growing Internet phenomenon. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(9): 607–609.

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 26, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.