Know the Risks and Get The Facts.

E-cigarette use among both youth and young adults has increased considerably in recent years. In 2015, more than a quarter of students in grades 6 through 12 and more than a third of young adults had ever tried e-cigarettes.

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E-Cigarettes and Young People: A Public Health Concern

Talk with teens and young adults you know about the dangers of e-cigarette use.

E-cigarettes, devices that typically deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to users through an inhaled aerosol, are a rapidly emerging trend, and are especially popular among youth and young adults. These devices are referred to by a variety of names, including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” and “tank systems.” E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver other drugs besides nicotine, such as marijuana.

Scientists are still learning more about how e-cigarettes affect health. However, there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people. We know that the vapor from e-cigarettes is harmful because it contains harmful ingredients, including nicotine. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing brain.

In 2016, a U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults became the first report issued by a federal agency that carefully reviewed the public health issue of e-cigarettes and their impact on our nation’s young people. Because most tobacco use starts during adolescence, actions to protect our nation’s young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction are critical.

What is an E-Cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a device that heats and vaporizes a liquid that contains nicotine designed to mimic the experience of smoking a conventional cigarette. They are a new product – less than 10 years old, there are more than 250 brands. The Ingredients, flavorants (chemicals and natural flavors used to flavor the products), and amount of nicotine delivered vary widely across brands.

As of April 24, 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) issued a proposed rule that would extend the agency’s authorities to cover additional products that include: electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvables that are not “smokeless tobacco,” nicotine gels, and waterpipe (hookah) tobacco. E-Cigarettes are entirely unregulated at this time. The FDA has not yet evaluated the safety of e-cigarettes.

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

  • There is no scientific information on long-term health effects.
  • Most people agree that an individual who totally switches from conventional (burnt) cigarettes to e-cigarettes probably reduces his/her health risks
  • At least one study has documented acute pulmonary dysfunction among a sample of e-cigarette users (Vardavas CI, Anagnostopoulos N, Kougias M, Evangelopoulou V; Connolly GN, Behrakis PK. Short-term Pulmonary Effects of Using an Electronic Cigarette: Impact on Respiratory Flow Resistance, Impedance, and Exhaled Nitric Oxide. Chest. 2012;141(6):1400-1406.)
  • Poison Center Calls have increased as a result of exposure to liquid nicotine by infants/toddlers. This occurs when adults purchase the ‘refillable vaping’ pen and or refillable electronic cigarette and the refill piece is ingested by the child.

Can E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Tobacco?

Studies on e-cigarettes as a quitting aid for nicotine addiction and cigarette use are few, with mixed and modest results. Some show that they are about equal in effectiveness to that of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – like the nicotine patch. The best way to quit is to use quit line counseling and FDA-approved medications.

  • The health effects of e-cigarette use are not known, but e-cigarettes are likely safer than combustible tobacco products.
  • The ultimate goal must be to quit traditional (burning tobacco) cigarette use in order to protect your health.
  • Dual use (using both products) is not a good long-term goal.

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