E-cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers that simulate the action and sensation of smoking. They are also known as e-cigs, vape pens, e-hookahs, e-pipes, tanks, mods, vapes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS, and more. Some people refer to vaping devices by their brand name such as JUUL, BO, Blu, and others.
E-cigarettes contain pre-filled pods or e-liquids/e-juices the user adds to the device. E-liquids generally consist of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings. Many of these pods and e-liquids come in fruit and candy flavors that appeal to youth.
E-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.
These toxins include:
- 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
Surgeon General’s Report
In December 2016, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy released a report about e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. This report found that e-cigarettes are now “the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs.” The major conclusions from the report are:
- E-cigarettes are a rapidly emerging and diversified product class.
- E-cigarette use among youth and young adults has become a public health concern.
- E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes in 2014. E-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, including combustible tobacco products.
- The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women, and fetuses. The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including in e-cigarettes, is unsafe.
- E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful constituents, including nicotine. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.
- E-cigarettes are marketed by promoting flavors and using a wide variety of media channels and approaches that have been used in the past for marketing conventional tobacco products to youth and young adults.
- Action can be taken at the national, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels to address e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. Actions could include incorporating e-cigarettes into smokefree policies, preventing access to e-cigarettes by youth, price and tax policies, retail licensure, regulation of e-cigarette marking likely to attract youth, and educational initiatives targeting youth and young adults.