E-Cigarette Dilemma

May 10, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 18
Does vaping spur tobacco use — or help people quit?
By Jane Fullerton Lemons


After barely a decade on the market, electronic cigarettes have transformed the nation's smoking landscape. Now a $5.6 billion business, the vaping industry has disrupted the tobacco marketplace and reversed years of declining smoking trends, creating what health officials call an epidemic of use among teens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco products in 2016 but delayed full implementation of its rules until at least 2021, allowing sales to continue while awaiting FDA approval. E-cigarettes — which deliver the nicotine smokers crave without the toxins of burning tobacco — have split public health officials. Some consider the devices safer than regular cigarettes and an aid to those trying to quit smoking. Others, noting that e-cigarettes deliver a highly concentrated form of nicotine, say the devices are creating a new generation of nicotine users who may move on to traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not approved as a smoking cessation device, and research remains unclear about their long-term safety. Meanwhile, cannabis vaping is catching on among marijuana users.

Nick Gregory (Getty Images/Lexington Herald-Leader/Charles Bertram)
Nick Gregory, 26, uses a Juul vaping device in Lexington, Ky. Public health officials are debating whether e-cigarettes are a useful smoking cessation device but are also creating a new generation of nicotine users who may turn to traditional cigarettes in the future. (Getty Images/Lexington Herald-Leader/Charles Bertram)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Smoking and the Tobacco Industry
May 10, 2019  E-Cigarette Dilemma
Sep. 19, 2014  E-Cigarettes
Dec. 10, 2004  Tobacco Industry Updated
Nov. 12, 1999  Closing In on Tobacco
Dec. 01, 1995  Teens and Tobacco
Sep. 30, 1994  Regulating Tobacco
Dec. 04, 1992  Crackdown on Smoking
Sep. 21, 1990  Tobacco Industry: on the Defensive, but Still Strong
Mar. 24, 1989  Who Smokes, Who Starts—and Why
Oct. 05, 1984  Tobacco Under Siege
Jan. 21, 1977  Anti-Smoking Campaign
Nov. 24, 1967  Regulation of the Cigarette Industry
Nov. 14, 1962  Smoking and Health
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
General Social Trends
Marijuana Legalization
Popular Culture