E-cigarettes: are they safer?

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are often advertised as a “safer cigarette.” E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that contain liquid. The liquid heats up when it’s turned on. When someone smokes an e-cigarette, they inhale the vapor from the liquid inside.


E-cigarettes are also called JUULs, vapes, vape pens, e-pens and e-hookahs. Smoking e-cigarettes is often called “vaping.”



Is vaping safe?

E-cigarettes don’t contain tar or tobacco like regular cigarettes.


But, the liquid inside an e-cigarette contains high levels of nicotine. Nicotine is addictive, so it’s hard to stop using it. It also raises blood pressure and can lead to a heart attack.


The liquid in e-cigarettes also contains other chemicals, which may include:

•  Acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde, which can cause lung and heart disease

•  Acrolein, a weed killer that can cause lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

•  Diacetyl, which can cause serious lung disease

•  Benzene, which is found in car exhaust

•  Volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals that can cause cancer

•  Propylene glycol, which is toxic to cells

•  Heavy metals, including nickel, tin and lead


The vapor that a person breathes out of an e-cigarette is called secondhand emissions. It may also contain some of these chemicals. This can make e-cigarettes harmful to people who are nearby, even if they’re not smoking it.



A major problem with youth

The American Lung Association says e-cigarette use among teens is becoming an epidemic. E-cigarette fruit and candy-like flavorings often appeal to kids and teens. They may think that e-cigarettes are safe. According to the U.S. Institutes of Health, most kids believe the liquid inside is for flavor only.


Nicotine contained in the vaporized liquid is especially harmful to young people. Nicotine can damage a teens’ developing brain. It also makes them more likely to smoke regular cigarettes later.



Get help quitting

The Food and Drug administration says e-cigarettes are not a safe or effective way to quit smoking. Instead, you may be replacing one unhealthy habit with a different one.


If you want to quit smoking or vaping, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to smokefree.gov


Sources: American Lung Association, National Institutes of Health

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