What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat up a liquid that contain nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. The device consists of a mouthpiece, battery, a coil and a reservoir for the vaping liquid. The battery heats the coil, which in turn heats the liquid. The liquid may contain the following ingredients:

  • Propylene glycol (liquid to suspend the flavorings, nicotine, and other additives)
  • Vegetable glycerins (liquid to suspend the flavorings, nicotine, and other additives)
  • Flavorings
  • Menthol
  • Nicotine
  • Additives to enhance nicotine absorption

Some common names for vaping devices:

  • E-cigs (digital cigarette, stick style)
  • E-cigar
  • Cig-a-like (e-cig that looks like cigarette)
  • E-hookahs
  • Vapes
  • Vape pens
  • E-Go (larger than standard vape pen)
  • Advance Personal Vaporizers (APVs) or mods (customizable, more powerful vaporizers)
  • Cartomizer (atomizer and cartridge in one)

Teens & Vaping
Vaping is popular among young people. Vaping devices are easily available; vaping device designs are attractive and easily disguisable. E-liquids are flavored and taste good. There is the belief that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes. These reasons make vaping appealing to teens.

E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2016

What are the effects of vaping on the brain?
The nicotine in vaping devices is highly addictive. For teens, nicotine exposure can cause addiction and harm the developing brain. Our brains continue to develop until about age 25. Nicotine stimulates endorphin, dopamine, and adrenaline release making you feel happy, energetic, and relaxed. However, that same trigger can make you want to use more and that can lead to nicotine addiction.

In fact, the nicotine in tobacco is so highly addictive that many people struggle to quit when they want to stop. After a while, tobacco products no longer help to deal with stressors or problems, but feed an addiction.

Can you have nicotine withdrawal symptoms from e-cigarette use?
Yes. Physical withdrawal from nicotine can make quitting e-cigarettes challenging. The physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are uncomfortable but not life-threatening.

Nicotine withdrawal is the strongest in the first week of quitting and can last 2-4 weeks. Nicotine is completely out of your body in about 3 days. Common symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • Dizziness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Hunger
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Coughing
  • Lethargic
  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability

Most nicotine cravings only last 3- to 5-minutes.

What are the health effects of e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes expose the lungs to a variety of chemicals from the e-liquid, additives and chemicals produced during heating. A study of some e-cigarette products demonstrate that the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contain known carcinogens, toxic chemicals, and toxic metal nanoparticles from the device itself. There are no FDA regulations in the manufacturing of electronic cigarettes and e-liquids. More research is required to determine the health consequences of repeated exposure to chemicals produced by e-cigarettes.

Can e-cigarettes help a person quit smoking?
E-cigarettes are not FDA approved as a quit aid. More research is needed regarding the effectiveness of vaping devices as a quit smoking aid.