Wellness Matters: Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

You smoke and you want to quit. Are electronic cigarettes the answer?

Known as e-cigarettes, these battery-operated devices are designed to mimic traditional cigarettes. They produce a vapor that looks and feels like tobacco smoke but with fewer toxic chemicals. More than 250 different e-cigarette brands are currently on the market and manufacturers claim they are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes.

But many health experts, as well as the Food and Drug administration (FDA), disagree. An FDA analysis of several popular e-cigarette brands found variable amounts of nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. As a result, the FDA has issued a warning about potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes.

Beyond that, little data exists about the safety of these products. They have been on the market only a short time, and researchers are still working to compare their health effects to conventional cigarettes. Among alternative tobacco products, e-cigarettes are the least regulated. They have no warning labels and can be sold to people of any age.

Play it smart. Say no to all cigarettes. If you want to quit smoking, there are many FDA-approved treatments that have been proven effective. If you need help to quit, Virginia Hospital Center is presenting a Smoking Cessation Workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. For more information or to register, visit

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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