E-cigarettes are sometimes called, e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items.
The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:
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.2
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 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.1 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.
Yes—but that doesn't mean e-cigarettes are safe. E-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes.3 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.1
E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of health experts that makes recommendations about preventive health care, has concluded that evidence is insufficient to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women.3
E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.
Youth use of e-cigarettes continues to be an emerging public health challenge. Addressing this requires the collaboration of local, state and national partners along with those working directly with youth, such as school administrators, nurses, teachers and others to ensure all young people can learn in an environment free from e-cigarette use. Below are some resources to assist in education and outreach.