The tobacco industry has changed – as more and more people have quit using cigarettes, the industry responded with new products: e-cigarettes. They’re marketed as being a safer, healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, but they’re not – more and more research is showing the harm of these products. Below is information to help protect you and your loved ones.
What are e-cigarettes? E-cigarettes are devices that use a battery to heat a liquid nicotine solution (“e-liquid”). The heated e-liquid creates an aerosol that is breathed into the lungs. They come in all shapes and sizes and go by other names such as e-cigs, hookah pens, vapes, vape pens or mods. Some can only be used once, while others can be refilled. Others have a tank which may hold large amounts of e-liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes are also used to smoke other substances like marijuana and hash oil. Many of them do not look like traditional cigarettes, like the JUUL, which is designed to look like a flash drive.
Why are they dangerous? E-cigarettes contain nicotine and chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects or other health problems.1 The e-liquids themselves are dangerous. Their sweet, fruity flavors appeal to children who may taste or drink the e-liquids, which are poisonous if swallowed, and are harmful if the liquid gets on skin or in the eyes.2
Aren’t they safer than tobacco cigarettes? E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals. E-cigarettes produce an aerosol, not water vapor, which is a mixture of chemicals and small particles that can hurt the lungs just like cigarette smoke.3 4 There is not currently enough research on e-cigarettes to prove they are a safer alternative to cigarettes. E-cigarettes are just as addictive as regular cigarettes.5
Do e-cigarettes help smokers quit? Studies show that e-cigarettes do not help people quit smoking cigarettes.6 7 Instead, many people end up using both products.8 Over-the-counter and prescription medicines are widely available and very effective at helping people quit smoking cigarettes. Additionally, the California Smokers’ Helpline provides free counseling support in six languages at 1-800-NO-BUTTS and www.nobutts.org.
For information about the vaping illness outbreak, visit CDC.gov.
How do I protect my family and friends?
- Nicotine is a poison. Never leave e-cigarettes or e-liquids where children can get them. Immediately call the California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 if any e-liquid is swallowed, gets on the skin or in the eyes.
- Never allow the use of e-cigarettes in your home. Secondhand vape pollutes the air and is harmful to you and your family.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and teens should never use e-cigarettes or be exposed to the aerosol due to the harm nicotine may cause to brain development.
- Support policies that do not allow e-cigarettes to be used indoors and where children are present.
- If you use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products, call for free help with quitting: 1-800-NO BUTTS (1-800-662-8887).
- Read more: Busting Myths about E-Cigarettes.