It may be possible to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. The products usually look like a regular cigarette or cigar and work by converting nicotine into a vapor form that can be inhaled. Electronic cigarettes do not usually contain tar or other harmful ingredients that are in regular tobacco products. Similar to other smoking cessation products such as nicotine gum or lozenges, electronic cigarettes are advertised as a means of reducing a smoker's dependence on nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers that, unlike other tobacco alternatives, electronic cigarettes have not been tested, and there are concerns with manufacturing quality and safety.
People who try to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes may feel that the product will be more effective than other smoking cessation aids. One benefit of an e-cigarette may be that it mimics the action of inhaling and exhaling smoke from an actual cigarette. Some of these products can also come in the form of a pipe or cigar, so they can appeal to a wider variety of smokers. Electronic cigarettes are also advertised as safer than regular cigarettes because they don't emit any second-hand smoke that would be harmful for other people.
While electronic cigarettes may offer some benefits over other methods of quitting, their effectiveness may be in question. The FDA has sent warning letters to five electronic cigarette manufacturers for violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The violations are for making unsubstantiated claims about their products and inadequate manufacturing quality control. Consumers who want to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes have been advised by the FDA to use one of the currently approved tobacco alternatives. These include nicotine gum, lozenges, or skin patches.
In the past, the FDA also has issued warnings to the public about health concerns related to electronic cigarettes. As the products are widely available for purchase, there is a possibility that younger people may use them and develop a nicotine addiction, leading them to start smoking regular cigarettes. Also, because the products are currently not regulated, it is not known whether the dosages of nicotine used are safe. Finally, people who try to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes may be exposing themselves to other harmful substances that can be present in the nicotine vapor. While it may seem like a great idea to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes, the products may need to be evaluated more closely before they are considered safe.