Frequently Asked Questions about Electronic Cigarettes

This information answers frequently asked questions about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid containing nicotine and flavorings. A vapor or mist is created, which is then inhaled.

Back to top

Are e-cigarettes safe to use?

We don’t yet know what health risks are associated with using e-cigarettes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other leading public health organizations agree that more research studies are needed. The FDA is seeking authority to regulate e-cigarettes, but at this time, the devices are not regulated in the United States.

One study has found that the vapors in e-cigarettes are not only made up of water, but also contain chemicals that can cause respiratory problems in some users.

Another concern is that some e-cigarettes are not manufactured with good quality control systems.

There has also been an increase in reports of people being poisoned after swallowing, inhaling, or exposing eyes and skin to the liquid used in e-cigarettes, especially in children ages 5 and under.

Back to top

Can e-cigarettes help people quit smoking?

We don’t yet know whether e-cigarettes help or hinder smokers trying to quit. At MSK, we examined the use of e-cigarettes among cancer patients seeking treatment for tobacco dependence and found no evidence that using e-cigarettes improved success in quitting smoking. Some smokers are using the e-cigarette to help manage nicotine withdrawal cravings, reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals in regular cigarette smoke, cut down or quit smoking, or prevent smoking relapse.

Although some current smokers will reduce their use of regular cigarettes if they use e-cigarettes, they may be less likely to quit smoking altogether. For example, people who use both e-cigarettes and smoke regular cigarettes may become more dependent on nicotine and delay quitting. Former smokers may return to smoking by using e-cigarettes.

Back to top

Are people allowed to use e-cigarettes while at MSK?

No. The e-cigarette is prohibited in all MSK facilities.

Back to top

Resources

American Cancer Society (ACS)
1-800-227-2345
American Legacy Foundation
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
1-877-448-7848
OnCancer: News and Insights from Memorial Sloan Kettering
Back to top
If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Frequently Asked Questions about Electronic Cigarettes
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on September 3, 2015