Vaping: The Facts
The bottom line: Vaping is NOT safe, especially for youth.
What is a vape?
Vaping devices (also known as “vapes” and “vape pens”) are electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. These are battery-powered devices that heat up a special liquid into an aerosol cloud of chemicals that is inhaled.
Isn’t it just water vapor?
NO. The aerosol produced by vapes is not water vapor, and it is NOT harmless.
What’s in the vapor that people inhale?
The contents of vaping liquid vary, but they usually contain nicotine (the highly addictive chemical in tobacco), propylene glycol (which acts as the base for the liquid and helps create vapor), and flavorings. Some vape liquids also contain THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
Scientific analysis of the chemicals in vaping liquids and aerosols from popular brands has also shown them to contain:
- Metals, including tin, lead, nickel, chromium, manganese, and arsenic.
- Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
- Acrolein is a weed killer that can cause severe, permanent lung damage.
- Industrial chemicals, caffeine, flavorings linked with respiratory irritation and other toxic effects, and nearly 2,000 chemicals – most of which were unidentified.
What are the health risks of vaping?
Since your brain is still developing in your teenage years, using nicotine during that time can interfere with its development and can affect your memory, concentration, learning, attention, mood, and self-control. It can also increase your risk of getting addicted to nicotine more quickly. This is partially why the legal age for smoking and vaping was raised from 18 to 21 years old in 2019.
Some vapes contain very high levels of nicotine, even as much nicotine as an entire pack of regular cigarettes. Because of those high levels, teens who vape may get addicted to nicotine even faster than those who smoke.
Even if a vaping liquid does not contain nicotine, the aerosol can still irritate your lungs, throat, and eyes. Some vaping liquids, particularly those containing THC, can cause severe lung illnesses and even permanent lung damage.
E-cigarettes and vapes have also been associated with seizures in youth and young adults.
Is vaping really that common?
E-cigarettes are the most common type of tobacco product used by youth.
In 2022, 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, which was nearly one in nine students. That included 3.3% of middle school students and 14.1% of high school students, according to a report by the CDC in November 2022.
Remember: There is no such thing as a safe tobacco product, and any inhaled aerosol – other than those prescribed by a medical provider – can be dangerous, including non-nicotine vaping liquids.
If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking, please talk to a healthcare professional about it. We are here to help.