By late March, tobacco companies will have to reveal to the Food and Drug Administration what sorts of new additives they've recently put in their products. But the ruling doesn't apply to electronic cigarettes, whose makers are locked in legal battle with the FDA.
Meanwhile, the e-cigs are starting to gain a pop-culture foothold – in the fall film “The Tourist,” actor Johnny Depp extols the devices’ virtues to Angelina Jolie, and Katherine Heigl showed up recently on the "Late Show with David Letterman" smoking the e-cigarette indoors. “Bet I’m freaking you all out right now, huh?” she asked the audience as she took a drag.
Manufacturers say electronic cigarettes, which deliver a spray of nicotine, do not fill lungs with tar, stain teeth or smell. They can deliver a heavy or light dose of nicotine, proponents say. They can be legally smoked indoors in public venues. Some argue they might be used as an alternative to the patch or nicotine gum as a way to quit smoking altogether.
But issues abound, according to this Healthy Skeptic column. No one yet knows if e-cigarettes are more or less effective than, say, gums or patches, because they haven’t been independently scientifically tested for this, some experts say. And some studies show the electronic cigarettes don’t deliver any significant amount of nicotine to a person’s bloodstream.