e-Cigarettes vs Cigarettes

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Do e-cigarettes expel secondhand smoke?

Not much is known about the secondhand "vapor" that is expelled from users, including levels of nicotine, nitrosamines, and other components that are yet to be identified. Nevertheless, many people would prefer not to be in a restaurant or other place of business and be exposed to vapors that contain addictive nicotine, and possibly other products that have a potential for harm.

Do e-cigarettes help with smoking cessation?

Although e-cigarettes have been touted as a way for tobacco smokers to kick their cigarette habit, e-cigarettes in one study were only about as effective as nicotine patches.

Are e-cigarettes addictive?

There is some concern that e-cigarettes are being marketed to attract younger non-smokers with "flavored" liquids such as bubblegum, piña colada, vanilla, and others. Because most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, it is possible that people can become addicted to them. Some doctors are concerned that if they become addicted to the nicotine in the e-cigarettes, it may be an easy step up to smoking tobacco which is associated with so very many health consequences.

How many people use e-cigarettes?

Since this product was first developed in 2004 in China as a tobacco cessation device, it has grown rapidly so that in 2013 the estimated market is about 1.5 billion as compared to 100 billion for tobacco sales. However, the sale of this product is growing rapidly worldwide. The CDC suggests that as more people utilize e-cigarettes, the dramatic increase in nicotine poisoning in children will continue if nothing is done to prevent young children gaining access to nicotine – containing liquids.

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease


Businessweek.com. E-Cigarettes: A $1.5 Billion Industry Braces for FDA Regulation.

CDC.gov. New CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers.

FDA.gov. Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015

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  • e-Cigarettes - Secondhand Vapors

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  • e-Cigarettes - Smoking Cessation

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