Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Electronic Cigarettes

Font Size

Topic Overview

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapor that you inhale. Many of them are made to look like real cigarettes. Some even have a light at the end that glows when you inhale.

For smokers, electronic cigarettes may satisfy nicotine cravings. They can be used in nonsmoking areas. And they may have less of the harmful chemicals that are in cigarette smoke. These cigarettes are often called e-cigarettes camera.gif.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

How do electronic cigarettes work?

E-cigarettes have three main parts.

  1. The mouthpiece has a cartridge. The cartridge contains a nicotine solution.
  2. A heating element turns the solution into a vapor when you inhale.
  3. A battery provides power to the heating element.

The nicotine in these cigarettes comes in flavors. Flavors include "regular" and "menthol." But they also include hundreds of other flavors like cherry, chocolate, and cola.

A chemical in the vapor turns it white so that it looks like smoke, even when you exhale.

Electronic cigars and pipes are also available.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

Since most of the harm from smoking is not from nicotine but from other things in tobacco, e-cigarettes may be safer than real cigarettes. But more research is needed before experts can say for sure.

The cartridges contain different levels of nicotine. So in theory, you could lower the nicotine levels over time until you no longer crave nicotine. This is why some people use them as aids to quitting smoking.

If you are thinking about using e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking, talk to your doctor first.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Can you catch one?
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
mosquito
Stings, bites, burns, and more.
Allentown, PA
Are you living in one?
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.