Leonardo DiCaprio has been seen with one. So have Katherine Heigl and Lindsay Lohan.
The goodie isn’t a multimillion-dollar film contract but an electronic cigarette, or “e-cig.”
E-cigs have been on the market for nearly seven years, but their appearance in the Hollywood spotlight hints at a newfound popularity. “I’ve seen it around a lot and have been curious about it,” says Maxine Jean-Louis, 24, a case worker from Columbia Heights.
Also known as smokeless cigarettes, e-cigs contain no tobacco or tar. A battery-operated mechanism heats up flavored liquid that, when exhaled, emits an odorless and fast-fading vapor. The tip lights up, and depending on the choice of cartridge, the smoker can ingest nicotine.
It is too soon to tell whether e-cigs are safe or just the lesser of two evils. Non-industrysponsored studies are scarce, so it’s unknown whether a relatively unstudied nicotine device, containing a variety of chemicals whose effects remain to be seen, can be considered “safe.”