Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems or vape devices) are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to users in vapor instead of smoke. They can be manufactured to resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks; newer devices, such as those with fillable tanks, may look different. More than 250 different brands are currently on the market.

While e-cigarettes are often promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which deliver nicotine by burning tobacco, little is actually known yet about the health risks of using these devices.
How Do e-Cigarettes Work?

Most e-cigarettes consist of three different components, including:
• A cartridge, which holds a liquid solution containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals
• A heating device (vaporizer)
• A power source (usually a battery)
• In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting aerosol or vapour is then inhaled (called “vaping”).

Is vaping or e-Cigarettes Safer than Conventional Cigarettes?

Unfortunately, this question is difficult to answer because insufficient information is available on these new products.
Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of sickness and mortality, responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. The worst health consequences associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion; the pleasurable, reinforcing, and addictive properties of smoking are produced mostly by the nicotine contained in tobacco.

E-cigarettes are designed to simulate the act of tobacco smoking by producing an appealingly flavoured aerosol that looks and feels like tobacco smoke and delivers nicotine but with less of the toxic chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves. Because they deliver nicotine without burning tobacco, e-cigarettes appear as if they may be a safer, less toxic alternative to conventional cigarettes.