A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Electronic cigarettes: A safe way to light up?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/electronic-cigarettes/AN02025
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Lowell Dale, M.D.read biographyclose window
Lowell Dale, M.D.Lowell Dale, M.D.
Dr. Lowell Dale is the medical director of Mayo Clinic Tobacco Quitline and an associate professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Dale is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and he has been an internal medicine consultant at Mayo since 1985.
As a consultant in the Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine, Dr. Dale has served on various divisional committees, including the Administrative Committee, Education Committee, Personnel Committee and Long Range Planning Committee.
Dr. Dale is an accomplished author on treatment, health professional education and research issues related to tobacco use and dependence. He has contributed to numerous medical journals, including Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Dale received his B.A. degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Quit-smoking basics (4)
- Hookah smoking: Is it safer than cigarettes?
- Electronic cigarettes: A safe way to light up?
- Smoking: Does it cause wrinkles?
- see all in Quit-smoking basics
Living smoke-free (3)
- Quit smoking, gain weight: Is it inevitable?
- Coughing after quitting smoking: What's the deal?
- Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers to nonsmokers?
Electronic cigarettes: A safe way to light up?
What are electronic cigarettes? Are they safer than conventional cigarettes?
from Lowell Dale, M.D.
Electronic cigarettes, often called e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices designed to look like regular tobacco cigarettes. Like their conventional counterparts, electronic cigarettes contain nicotine. Here's how they work: An atomizer heats a liquid containing nicotine, turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled and creating a vapor cloud that resembles cigarette smoke.
Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has questioned the safety of these products. When the FDA analyzed samples of two popular brands, they found variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). This prompted the FDA to issue a warning about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes.
Until more is known about the potential risks, the safe play is to say no to electronic cigarettes. If you're looking for help to stop smoking, there are many FDA-approved medications that have been shown to be safe and effective for this purpose.Next question
Smoking: Does it cause wrinkles?
- Yamin CK, et al. E-cigarettes: A rapidly growing Internet phenomenon. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2010;153:607.
- FDA and public health officials warn about electronic cigarettes. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm173222.htm. Accessed Sept.19, 2011.
- Dale LC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 19, 2011.