Apparently, the American Heart Association is not sure if there are benefits to quitting smoking if you continue to inhale nicotine, such as you would do if you quit by using electronic cigarettes or a nicotine inhaler and then continued to use those devices.
According to the chief medical officer of the American Heart Association, as quoted at WebMD: "They [electronic cigarettes] are nicotine delivery devices intended to be used like a cigarette. What happens to someone who stops inhaling the tars of cigarettes and inhales only nicotine? We don't know."
This is quite clearly a caution against quitting smoking using nicotine inhalers because smokers doing so are stopping inhaling the tars of cigarettes but still inhaling nicotine. The same is true with electronic cigarettes.
The Rest of the Story
The American Heart Association would have us believe that there is not enough scientific evidence to know what happens to a person who quits smoking - thus eliminating their exposure to cigarette tars - but who continues to obtain nicotine (but in a "clean" fashion).
The rest of the story is that we know full well what happens to that person: they greatly reduce their risk of disease and death and quite possibly, they save their life.
How in 2013 the American Heart Association could not be aware that it is the tar (with the tens of thousands of chemicals and more than 60 known carcinogens), not the nicotine, which causes the overwhelming bulk of smoking-related disease is completely beyond me.
Shockingly, in 2013, it is the anti-smoking groups - not the tobacco companies - which are misleading the public about the health effects of smoking and undermining the public's appreciation of those hazards. Ironically, and quite sadly, the tobacco companies historical efforts to lie to and mislead the public in order to undermine the public's appreciation of the severe hazards of smoking have been replaced by the efforts of major anti-smoking groups.
And all this because these anti-smoking groups are so blinded by ideology that they are unable to endorse a behavior that looks like smoking, even though it protects the user from virtually all of its associated health effects.