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Know the risks of e-cigarettes

Member news | Thursday, May 7, 2020

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes are also known as e-cigarettes or vapes. They are battery-powered devices used to inhale a mix of nicotine, flavorings, and other ingredients. The devices can also be used to deliver marijuana or other drugs. This is often called “vaping.”

What’s in an e-cigarette?

The “water vapor” created by e-cigarettes may look harmless, but can include harmful chemicals like:

  • Nicotine
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Flavorings that have been linked to lung disease
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

Are e-cigarettes harmful?

Yes. Early data shows that vaping, no matter the substance, is harmful to your health. People with lung damage from vaping may have symptoms that start a few days to a few weeks before they see a doctor. People have been hospitalized for breathing problems and other symptoms, like:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

What are the risks for youth?

Vaping or smoking nicotine products can:

  • Harm brain development, which continues until about age 25
  • Impact learning, memory, and attention
  • Increase risk for future addiction to other drugs

Young people who vape may also be more likely to use regular cigarettes. This is why kid-friendly flavors, like bubble gum and sour candy, are concerning for parents.

Where to get help?

The California Smokers’ Helpline offers services like phone counseling, texting, web chat, and an app, to help smokers quit. For more information and resources for youth, young adults, and parents, call 1-800-NO BUTTS or visit

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)