In recent years a new type of cigarette has begun to repopulate our restaurants, underground trains and movie theaters. It does not burn tobacco, it does not emit smoke and lasts much longer than a traditional cigarette. At present it is not regulated, but that may change soon, and experts are already debating the best approach.
The Food and Drug Administration currently can not regulate electronic cigarettes because they do not contain tobacco technically - even though the nicotine in them is derived from tobacco - something that has infuriated opponents e-cigarettes.
"Many people feel like [electronic cigarette makers] are exploiting a legal loophole," said director of smoking cessation services at Columbia University Medical Center, Daniel Seidman.
Electronic cigarettes convert nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Only one of the battery-powered devices provides up to 300 puffs, more or less equivalent to the number of puffs in a whole package of conventional cigarettes.