Electronic cigarettes: a short review

Respiration. 2013;86(5):433-8. doi: 10.1159/000353253. Epub 2013 Sep 24.


Marketed since 2004 as an alternative to nicotine delivery and advertised as a valid means to smoking cessation, the electronic (e)-cigarette has been the subject of much controversy but very little experimental study. This review provides a brief summary of the current knowledge of this product. Propylene glycol and glycerol, the main ingredients of the fluid that is vaporized, have proved to be harmless in the fog machines of the entertainment industry. However, in the case of the e-cigarette fluid, the composition is not properly labeled: additives like nicotine and flavors vary between and within brands and contamination with various chemicals has been detected. The short-term toxicity seems low, but the long-term toxicity is unknown. The usefulness of the e-cigarette in smoking cessation has still to be clinically established.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies*
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Propylene Glycol / chemistry
  • Propylene Glycol / toxicity
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Smoking*


  • Aerosols
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Nicotine