Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are becoming a popular nicotine alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes. The e-cig industry is not federally regulated, and the potential hazards of smoking e-cig vapor has stirred up much debate. Some contend that smoking e-cigs may be a safe aid for weaning smokers off of cigarettes, while others are unsure about their safety.
Roughly 20 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes are full of harmful carcinogens, tar, and the addictive nicotine that makes smoking a difficult habit to curb. It has been long known that smoking cigarettes can increase one’s risk for developing diseases such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease.
“E-cigarettes may help some people quit smoking, but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends them only as a last resort,” says Elliott Antman, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Immediate Past President of the AHA, who is studying the effects of e-cigs. The AHA’s policy recommendation is that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products. The Association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales, and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.