E-cigarettes: a rapidly growing Internet phenomenon

Ann Intern Med. 2010 Nov 2;153(9):607-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-9-201011020-00011.


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) aerosolize nicotine and produce a vapor that emulates that of cigarettes but purportedly has fewer traditional toxins than secondhand smoke. Although e-cigarettes are widely sold online and by retailers, new research suggests that they may contain unexpected toxins and may provide unreliable nicotine delivery. Many countries have already banned or strictly regulated e-cigarettes. Currently in the United States, e-cigarettes are exempt from regulation as drug-delivery devices. Meanwhile, the presence of e-cigarettes on the Internet, including in Web searches, virtual user communities, and online stores where people sell e-cigarettes on commission, is increasing rapidly. Physicians should be aware of the popularity, questionable efficacy claims, and safety concerns of e-cigarettes so that they may counsel patients against use and advocate for research to inform an evidence-based regulatory approach.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Aerosols
  • Nicotine