First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Electronic Cigarettes
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.
E-cigarettes have three main parts.
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.
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.
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.
Current as of: March 12, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMichael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
Current as of: March 12, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.