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Many people, especially teens and young adults, think e-cigs are cool or a healthier choice. Whether they look like regular cigarettes, pipes, pens or lipstick holders, they all use a vapor to deliver nicotine without tobacco. This vapor sparked the use of “vape” and “vaping” instead of smoking.
Some say e-cigs are safer than regular cigarettes. Health experts don’t agree. Most vape devices contain nicotine. Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. In fact, one vaping dose can have as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes.
E-cig vapor often contains harmful chemicals and metals. It’s been linked to serious lung injuries. Research shows exposure to secondhand vapor can be dangerous for others – including pregnant women.
Smokers who want to quit may think vaping can help them give up cigarettes. In reality, vaping makes it harder. Studies show vaping is just as addictive as smoking regular cigarettes. About 28 percent of smokers who use vaping are less likely to quit, says the American Heart Association. Many end up smoking and vaping. Plus, vape devices are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a quit aids.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, ask your doctor about nicotine replacement products and other proven tools that can. For more information, visit smokefree.gov.
Many children and teens who weren’t smokers have started vaping. This may increase their risk of smoking tobacco-based products later on in life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than two million high school and middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2021. They are now more popular among teenagers than traditional cigarettes.
The figures are concerning since nearly all e-cigs have nicotine – even those that say they don’t. Along with being addictive, nicotine can have a negative impact on health – including brain development in adolescents.
The vaping industry is unregulated. E-cigarette makers don’t have to follow the strict standards set for cigarette companies. Anti-smoking advocates are also concerned about aggressive marketing. Especially to young people. Fruity vape flavors and giveaways at concerts and sporting events lure in young people.
Remember, it’s hard to know exactly how much nicotine and other chemicals are in e-cigs. It’s safest not to introduce them into clear air -- or healthy lungs.
Originally published 11/17/2015; Revised 2019, 2022
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