A recent trend is the popularization of the electronic cigarette. According to Forbes, sales of these devices have already crossed over 1 billion dollars. But what exactly are these devices? Are they just another vice? Or are they an effective smoking cessation tool? The electronic cigarette is a battery powered device which vaporizes a liquid to be inhaled by the user. The most popular application of this product is as an alternative to cigarette smoking, with the vaporizing liquid containing nicotine. Many studies have been conducted to determine the product’s efficacy and safety. If the product is solely used to deliver nicotine, it could be an effective alternative to smoking with potentially fewer consequences. But are electronic cigarettes harmless?

These products have sparked numerous discussions/debates with many different regulatory bodies around the world. They are currently considered to be in a “regulatory greyzone” in Canada. Devices that are marketed without claims of being strict nicotine delivery methods are neither banned nor approved. Although the sale of nicotine-containing liquids is not allowed in Canada, this rule has not been strongly enforced according to Melodie Tilson, director of policy for the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association. The US FDA has recently released a proposal for regulations on e-cigarettes, which includes steep testing requirements for submission of approval. However, e-cigarette products in the market prior to February 15, 2007 will be grandfathered to approval status. It has been speculated that Canada may follow suit with the United States.