The 10 Craziest Health Trends of the Past 40 Years
The Idea: These battery-operated devices deliver nicotine, enticing flavors (pina colada, coffee, cherry, bubblegum and more), and other chemicals but no tobacco, so they're often marketed as a safe way to quit smoking.
The Problem: There was no difference in quit rates among smokers who tried e-cigarettes and those who didn't try them in a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine. And two recent studies, one in the New England Journal of Medicine and the other in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that many e-cigarettes still produce the carcinogenic compound formaldehyde, though in lower levels than regular cigarettes do. There's also evidence that the chemicals used to create those alluring flavors could cause respiratory irritation in some cases.
The Lesson: Smoking is bad, but we don't know yet if e-cigarettes are much better. In the meantime, if you want to quit smoking, check out smokefree.gov for resources that can help.