Electronic Cigarettes: FSA Eligibility
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are handheld electronic devices that produce in inhalable vapor from a flavored liquid containing nicotine. The liquid is usually called e-liquid and is made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavoring agents. Electronic cigarettes use rechargeable batteries to power a heating element or atomizer which causes the liquid to become vaporized. The electronic cigarette user then inhales the vapor to absorb nicotine into the bloodstream via the lungs, similar to smoking a cigarette (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
The health risks associated with using electronic cigarettes are uncertain. There are regulated nicotine replacement products such as pills, gum, and patches which have been proven effective for smoking cessation. There is tentative evidence that electronic cigarettes may help with smoking cessation, but electronic cigarettes have also been proven to have side effects such as throat and mouth inflammation, vomiting, nausea, and coughing. Regulated smoking cessation products have been proven safer than electronic cigarettes.
There are disagreements between different medical authorities on the conclusions of studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes in smoking cessation. Some authorities suggest the studies to date are insufficient, or are inadequately designed and conducted. Other authorities have concluded that electronic cigarettes are tentatively proven to be effective at smoking cessation.
The World Health Organization currently holds the view that there is not enough evidence to recommend electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation (World Health Organization). Electronic cigarettes are not typically prescribed by doctors for smoking cessation programs, so they are not reimbursable with any consumer-directed healthcare account.