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The news you need about e-cigarettes

| March 17, 2020

Smoking cessation
Experts still don't know everything about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. The best advice? Don't start vaping or smoking. If you want to quit, GEHA medical plans offer 100% coverage.

Clouds of sometimes conflicting information hover over the dangers of e-cigarettes. This information will clear up any confusion.

E-cigarettes are sometimes called e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems or electronic nicotine delivery systems. They produce an aerosol by heating a liquid usually containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.

The aerosol can contain:

  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
  • Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead
  • Nicotine
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Volatile organic compounds

It can be difficult to know just what these products contain. For example, some e-cigs marketed as containing no nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.

Smoking vs. vaping

In general, e-cig aerosol contains fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. But this does not mean e-cigs are harmless.

While they may help non-pregnant adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for all cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products, e-cigs are not currently approved for such use by the Food and Drug Administration. Scientists and other health experts are still studying the long-term effects of vaping.

The bottom line? If you’ve never smoked or used other tobacco products or e-cigs, don’t start. And if you do smoke, try to quit as soon as possible.

GEHA will help you quit

GEHA’s medical plans offer 100% coverage to help you quit smoking. No copays, coinsurance, deductibles, dollar limits or in-network or out-of-network differentiation. GEHA’s smoking cessation benefits include:
  • Up to four sessions of counseling for each attempt to quit, with two attempts to quit covered each year.
  • Both over-the-counter* (with a physician's prescription) and prescription drugs approved for smoking cessation.

*Nicotine gum is covered, but you must get a prescription from your doctor or receive the drugs as part of a plan-approved tobacco cessation program for it to be covered with no copays and coinsurance.

For more information, call GEHA Customer Care at 800.821.6136 or consult your GEHA Plan Brochure. For more information on the FEHB tobacco cessation benefit, visit OPM's Quit Smoking webpage.

This is a brief description of the features of the Elevate, HDHP, Standard Option, Elevate Plus and High Option plan. Before making a final decision, please read the plan's Federal brochure RI 71-006, RI 71-014 or RI 71-018, available at All benefits are subject to the definitions, limitations, and exclusions set forth in the Federal brochure.

 “Electronic cigarettes – what’s the bottom line? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 24 February, 2020

“Vaporizers, e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration 14 February, 2020