(CBS) — The FDA is closer to regulating an incredibly popular item, but Chicago got there first.

They’re called e-cigarettes. While the battery-operated device has its critics, some say it has helped them stop smoking.

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CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Scott Norris smoked cigarettes for 17 years. For the past year, he’s been “vaping.”

“Within about two months, I noticed the shortness of breath from all of the smoking was going away,” he says.

Ben Spencer says e-cigarettes helped him stop lighting up.

“It makes me feel much better. I don’t have all the tobacco side effects,” he says.

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E-cigarettes are tubes made of metal or plastic. Users often put flavored liquid in them that contain nicotine. The battery inside the e-cigarette heats the liquid, creating the vapor users inhale.

“The health of those around us are all better off for people using electronic cigarettes than they are real tobacco,” says Jared Yucht, owner of Smoque Vapours.

Yucht says he follows rules the FDA is proposing. Yucht lists the ingredients and nicotine content on his labels, along with a product warning. He doesn’t sell to minors.

Chicago Department of Public Health Cmsr. Bechara Choucair says regulation is needed because the health risks of e-cigarettes are not fully known. A big concern is that e-cigarettes may be a gateway drug for young people.

“Bubble gum, candy, cotton candy — those are really flavors that are very, very attractive to kids. And that’s why we’re concerned about them,” Choucair says.

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Chicago is the only city in the nation restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes near schools. Starting on April 29, e-cigarette users also will be subject to the same rules as regular smokers and not be able to use their devices indoors.