By Nancy Buthman, APRN

How often do you hear about e-cigs or vaping? Quite often I would imagine. Do you know what it is and what it can do to your body especially to adolescents and young adults?

E-cigs are the most commonly used tobacco products among youth. According to a report by the Surgeon General in 2021, 2.06 million middle and high school students had used e-cigs in the past 30 days. The highest rate of use is in those 18 to 24 years of age. Two-thirds of teens who vape use fruit flavored e-cigs. They have an increased risk of using regular cigarettes.

Some smokers use e-cigs to help them stop smoking, but the majority of these people continue to smoke both.

E-cigs come in many different shapes and sizes. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or resemble other everyday articles. They are also called by different names such as e-cigs, vapes, JUULs, e-hookahs, mods, or tank systems.

Basically, they all have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold liquids. This liquid is heated, and the aerosol is inhaled into the lungs as vapor instead of smoke.

This aerosol contains harmful and potentially damaging substances.

The American Heart Association says that all e-cigs contain nicotine even the ones that say “nicotine free”. There are no regulations for content in the e-cigs and no way to find out what is in them. Some JUUL pods contain as much nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes.

There are many other substances in this aerosol that are toxic to cells. These include heavy metals such as nickel, lead, and tin, formaldehyde, benzene, and others.

These ingredients can lead to a number of serious medical problems such as:

Lung disease – Cancer, COPD, Asthma                                                                                                                Fetal Toxicity                                                                                                                                Brain damage to parts of the brain that control mood, learning, attention, and impulse                control especially in adolescents. Brain inflammation linked to anxiety, depression, and addictive behavior.                                                                                                                  Addiction                                                                                                                            Gastrointestinal, mouth and gum disease.

Although it is too early to be able to determine long term consequences of e-cigs, the known health results are troubling. The inhalation of nicotine and these other harmful chemicals can cause serious lung disease, damage to the brain especially of adolescents and young adults, and harm the fetuses of pregnant women.

As of December 1st, 2021, all 50 states have passed laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

E-cigs may be helpful to non-pregnant adults trying to quit smoking if they use e-cigs exclusively. However, the Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigs to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

The effect of e-cigs on your body is definitely of concern. People need to be aware of the damaging effects that e-cigs can have.


WebMD – 4 Major Health Risks Linked to E-Cigarette Use by Michael LoRe

American Lung Association – E-cigarettes and Lung Health

E-cigarettes, Vapes, and JUULS

World Health Organization – E-cigarettes are Harmful to Health (2-5-20)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC -Electronic Cigarettes, the Bottom Line.