Last Updated 05/04/2020

Authors:Kathleen Doo, MD, NYULMC; Jay Peters, MD, FCCP

About E-cigarettes

Key Facts About e-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are products that enable users to breathe in, or smoke, vapor. The vapor contains nicotine, flavorings, and other substances. These products are commonly referred to as:

  • E-cigarettes
  • E-cigs
  • Cigalikes
  • E-hookahs
  • Mods
  • Vape pens
  • Vapes
  • Tank systems

Why do people use E-cigarettes?

People may use e-cigarettes for many reasons. They may be curious. They may also enjoy the flavor or the taste. Some people believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products. e-Cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco products among young people. In 2014, more young people smoked e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes.

e-Cigarettes are sometimes marketed as tools to help people quit smoking. Many people believe that e-cigarettes can be used as an aid to quit smoking.

What is the debate about E-cigarettes?

e-Cigarette vapor may be less toxic than cigarette smoking. However, e-cigarettes are not  approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to help people quit smoking, in large part because there is not enough evidence to prove that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking. No long-term safety studies of e-cigarette use have been done, either.

How smoking E-cigarettes affects your body

e-Cigarette vapor is not harmless. It can contain harmful substances, including nicotine. Being exposed to nicotine at a young age can cause addiction. And it can harm the growing brain. e-Cigarettes should not be used indoors or around children. Drinking e-cigarette liquids can cause sickness and possibly death.

Right now, researchers do not know the long-term health effects of smoking e-cigarettes. They also do not know what amounts are harmful. Health care providers recommend that people who use e-cigarettes set a date to quit. Smoking e-cigarettes, even at lower levels, increases health risks over time.

e-Cigarettes Q&A


Questions to ask your health care provider

The following are questions you can ask your provider about quitting:

  • What types of medicines can help me stop smoking?
  • What will help besides medications?
  • If I have tried to quit is the past, is it worth trying again? (Most smokers try several times before they successfully quit.)
  • Do all people gain weight when they stop smoking?
  • What can I do to maintain a healthy weight while trying to quit smoking?