Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Electronic Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapor that you inhale. Many of them are made to look like real cigarettes. Some even have a light at the end that glows when you inhale.
For some smokers, electronic cigarettes may satisfy nicotine cravings. But the nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive. And they do contain small amounts of harmful chemicals.
These cigarettes are often called e-cigarettes.
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.
It is important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate e-cigarettes. So there is no government oversight or standard for how much or what chemicals are in nicotine cartridges. This means that the contents printed on these cartridges may not be true.
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.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
Current as ofMay 26, 2016
Current as of:
May 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.