First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > 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 ofSeptember 26, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineMichael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of:
September 26, 2018
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
UNC Medical Center
101 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
UNC Health Care Citrix
UNC Medical Center Intranet
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.