The FDA regulates the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes (sometimes called “vapes”). The FDA has the legal authority to regulate tobacco products containing nicotine from any source, including synthetic nicotine.
Here are some facts to help dispel common myths about e-cigarette use, which is commonly referred to as “vaping.”
Fact: In general, different types of tobacco products pose different levels of risk to people’s health.
Bottom Line: While e-cigarette aerosol generally contains lower levels of harmful chemicals than cigarette smoke, no tobacco products are safe.
Fact: E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful chemicals.
More Information: E-cigarette aerosol (sometimes called “vapor”) is not just water vapor. It can contain harmful chemicals, including acrolein and acetaldehyde, which can damage your lungs.
Bottom Line: The fact that FDA regulates tobacco products does not mean they are safe to use. There are no safe tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other types of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Fact: E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can disrupt adolescent brain development.
More Information: The younger a person is when they start using tobacco products, the more likely they are to become addicted. Because their brains are still developing, young people have a higher risk of becoming addicted to the nicotine in tobacco products than adults.
Bottom Line: Youth should not use any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.
Fact: The FDA does not “approve” tobacco products for sale in the U.S.
More Information: To legally sell or distribute a new tobacco product in the U.S., manufacturers must receive authorization from the FDA. A marketing authorization does not indicate that the tobacco product is either safe or “approved.” It means that the manufacturer has complied with the requirements under the law to bring its product to market.
Bottom Line: There is no such thing as a safe tobacco product, so the FDA’s safe and effective standard for evaluating medical products does not apply to tobacco products.
Fact: To date, no e-cigarette has been approved as a smoking cessation device.
More Information: FDA has approved 7 different medications that have been shown to help adults quit smoking. While certain e-cigarettes may help adults who smoke to transition completely away from, or significantly reduce their use of, more harmful cigarettes, no e-cigarette product has been approved by FDA as a smoking cessation device. More research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
Bottom Line: People who don’t currently use tobacco products should not start. For those who do smoke, FDA-approved medications can help them quit.
Fact: In general, transitioning completely from using cigarettes to an e-cigarette would reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.
More Information: Switching completely to e-cigarettes can reduce health risks among adults who smoke. But continued use of both products (“dual use”) does not meaningfully reduce one’s risk.
Bottom Line: For an adult who smokes to benefit from e-cigarette use, they have to transition completely from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.