Photography by Leonardo Patrizi for Getty Images
Photography by Leonardo Patrizi for Getty Images

One of our big goals at Healthy Hairdresser is to get hair pros to stop smoking. For a while there, it looked as if e-cigarettes might serve as an effective “halfway house” to wean people off tobacco cigarettes. They use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced, inhalable vapor. But as they’ve grown to generate a $2 billion industry, e-cigs have become controversial. Some states are banning public “vaping” and sales to minors. This week, the FDA issued recommendations in support of those bans, along with additional recommendations such as listing ingredients and submitting new products to the FDA for approval.

The latest study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that e-cigs do not help people give up smoking or even cut back, and so far there’s little research into secondhand smoke issues regarding the vapor the e-cigs emit. In addition, studies find that teens are the ones drawn to vaping, so e-cigs may be serving as a gateway smoking device, hooking young people through nicotine addiction and the fruity flavoring that even the FDA’s new recommendations do not suggest limiting. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, from 2011 to 2012, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students nearly doubled, according to City of Hope.

“They try to market e-cigarettes as alternatives, but they are nicotine-delivery devices,” says Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope. “We don’t know what else they’re bringing into our bodies. It is important to note that e-cigarettes are being sold by the tobacco industry with the implication that they are quitting devices—but they are not calling them a medication for quitting because they would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. They don’t want that. They also don’t want them to be regulated as cigarettes.”

If you’re trying to quit, Tiep recommends sticking with the methods that have been proven to work.