A new kind of cigarette is helpful when it comes to quitting smoking, according to some people. 

There's no smoke, but nicotine could be involved, and the local health unit is concerned about what's in the air.

Gord Edmeades has smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for the past 40 years. 

“I did quit for two-and-a-half years, and I had one of those old plastic cigarettes that I just held in my hand,” he says.

Many smokers wanting to quit continue to look for new and effective ways to butt out. Some are turning to what's called an electronic cigarette. They consist of a battery, an atomizer that heats a liquid and turns it into a vapour, a cartridge that contains flavouring, and sometimes nicotine is placed in the unit. Smokers can choose how much nicotine they want.

“So this is the electronic cigarette. All you do is pour the juice inside here, twist it back on, and just hold the button and inhale at the same time,” says Mack Stringer.

The e-cigarettes can be attractive to some people because they cost far less than the real thing.

“You plug it in overnight just like you would your cell phone. You fill it up every morning.”

But the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit says there are strict rules surrounding the sale of the e-cigarettes.

“Health Canada has not approved them to be sold legally in Canada if there is any nicotine in the cartridge. That said we know it's happening all the time,” says Leslie Gordon with the health unit.

“And it's illegal to say they are any kind of device that's going to help you quit smoking.”

Gordon leads the anti-tobacco team with the health unit. She says there just hasn't been enough research to show whether e-cigarettes are harmful or not.

“We are not willing to say try this instead of using tobacco. We are pretty sure that it's going to be better than tobacco but we are nowhere near ready to say use them, don't use tobacco.”

There are no laws banning the use of the devices in public places, unlike tobacco. But towns and cities can create by-laws banning their use.