Electronic cigarettes are illegal and unreliable as a quit-smoking tool, according to Health Canada, but they’re still easy to buy in Regina stores.

The cigarettes, commonly called e-cigarettes, contain cartridges of flavoured liquid that is vapourized and inhaled. They're marketed as an alternative to smoking tobacco.

E-cigarettes are available online, although Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulate the cigarettes as drugs, have not approved them for sale.

In Regina, smoke-shop owner Ashok Brahmania says he sells about 15 e-cigarette kits a week. He also say he’s been assured they’re legal.

"It has to be approved by Health Canada, and it seems to me I asked our supplier," he said. "This one is approved by Health Canada."

In fact, Health Canada says it doesn’t approve any form of electronic cigarette for sale in Canada. And there is no proof e-cigarettes help smokers give up tobacco, the department says.

Janice Burgess of Regina, who helps people quit smoking, says not enough research has been done on electronic cigarettes. She worries the vapour is a risk to others, just as second-hand tobacco smoke is.

"People around the person using the e-cigarette will be exposed to whatever is in the liquid cartridge," she said.