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Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes first came on the market in 2003 as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes and an aid to quitting smoking. More than 10 million people participate in vaping every day, either in an attempt to reduce their use of tobacco cigarettes or recreationally. Despite these high numbers, there has been no definitive agreement on the ability of these devices to help people quit. Likewise, researchers have yet to identify the full extent of the short- and long-term risks of vaping.

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1. How do E-cigarettes Work, and What is in Them?

An e-cigarette is a device that allows the user to inhale nicotine in a vapor rather than as smoke. The battery-powered devices heat a liquid that usually contains propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine, and flavorings. Most contain a wide variety of additional chemicals. Some vaping devices do not contain nicotine.

The liquid is contained in disposable or refillable cartridges or a reservoir and is vaporized by the heat, producing ultrafine particles. Some devices allow the user to increase the temperature of the heating element to deliver more or less nicotine. There are more than 7000 unique flavorings available to e-cigarette users, which helps explain their popularity.

Girl using e-cigarette John Keeble / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.