In an electronic cigarette, flavored nicotine liquid is converted into an inhalable aerosol \u2014 and smoked much like a traditional cigarette. Some have suggested that these “e-cigarettes” might help smokers quit the habit in favor of vapor.\nIt’s a practice called “vaping”\u2014and it’s controversial.\nFood and Drug Administration now regulates the use of electronic cigarettes, and more than 500 municipalities across the United States have passed laws requiring “vaping” to be treated like traditional smoking.\nMany worry about the potential toxicity of vaping devices, and whether e-cigarettes might pave the way for traditional cigarette use in young people.\nWhat Are Electronic Cigarettes?\nElectronic cigarettes (also known as “e-cigs” or “e-cigarettes”) are devices filled with liquid nicotine and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette is powered by a battery and turns the liquid into an inhalable aerosol.\nMany people use e-cigarettes as an alternative to or as a way to quit traditional cigarette smoking. Many people, however, revert to cigarette smoking or using both traditional and e-cigarettes.\n\nHealth Dangers of Using an e-Cigarette\nAt first glance, use of e-cigarettes seems to be far less concerning than smoking traditional cigarettes. But there are several reasons why doctors do not recommend e-cigarettes as a means of smoking cessation.\nNicotine in e-Cigarettes\nIt is important to emphasize that e-cigarettes contain significant amounts of nicotine.\n\nVaping devices that are supposed to be nicotine free have been shown to contain some small amounts of nicotine.\nInhaling nicotine can result in immediate side effects. These include nausea, seizures, and heart palpitations.\nNicotine can impair brain development, especially in children.\n\nThe biggest concern regarding nicotine, however, is its addictiveness. Users who wish to cut back or stop using e-cigarettes may experience withdrawal symptoms such as moodiness, depression, headaches, and anxiety. In some cases, e-cigarette use leads individuals to take up traditional smoking.\nOther Chemicals in e-Liquids\nDiacetyl and other flavored chemicals used in e-cigarettes can cause lung disease and damage to your arteries and blood vessels.\nPropylene glycol, another chemical often found in electronic cigarette liquid, is an irritant that when heated turns into formaldehyde, a substance linked to cancer\n“Second-Hand” Aerosol\nThe aerosol from an e-cigarette also can harm those near the smoker, creating a different kind of “second-hand smoke.” People are most exposed to the effects of aerosol from an e-cigarette when indoors or in enclosed spaces.\nAir quality declines as the e-cigarette releases the aerosol, which contains not only nicotine but also many of the same carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes. Exposure to the aerosol from e-cigarettes does likely place bystanders at risk for heart and lung disease, though the dangers do not seem to be as high as second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes.\nSo, the next time someone tries to convince you that smoking an e-cigarette is harmless – water vapor, you may want to think again.