What are E-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air.
  • E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid.
  • E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products—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.
  • E-cigarettes are known by many different names. They are sometimes called e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  • E-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.

Are e-cigarettes safer than cigarettes?

Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it still isn’t safe. E-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. However, e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.

What are the health effects of using e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects. Here is what we know now.

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known health effects. 
    • Nicotine is highly addictive.
    • Nicotine is toxic to developing fetuses.
    • Nicotine can harm adolescent and young adult brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
    • Nicotine is a health danger for pregnant women and their developing babies.
  • Besides nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol can contain substances that harm the body.
    • This includes cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep into lungs. However, e-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer harmful chemicals than smoke from burned tobacco products.
  • E-cigarettes can cause unintended injuries.
    • Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. Most explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged.
    • In addition, acute nicotine exposure can be toxic. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.

What is in e-cigarette aerosol?

The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:

  • Nicotine
  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.

Who is using e-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.
    • In the United States, youth are more likely than adults to use e-cigarettes.
    • In 2019, over 5 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 10.5% of middle school students and 27.5% of high school students.
    • In 2017, 2.8% of U.S. adults were current e-cigarette users.
    • In 2015, among adult e-cigarette users overall, 58.8% also were current regular cigarette smokers, 29.8% were former regular cigarette smokers, and 11.4% had never been regular cigarette smokers.
    • Among current e-cigarette users aged 45 years and older in 2015, most were either current or former regular cigarette smokers, and 1.3% had never been cigarette smokers. In contrast, among current e-cigarette users aged 18–24 years, 40.0% had never been regular cigarette smokers.

What are the risks of e-cigarettes for youth, young adults and pregnant women?

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and toxic to developing fetuses. Nicotine exposure can also harm adolescent and young adult brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. E-cigarette aerosol can contain chemicals that are harmful to the lungs. And youth e-cigarette use is associated with the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes.

All information sourced from Tobacco Free Nebraska

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