E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Posted in:
Tweens / Teens
Substance Misuse

In recent years, the use of e-cigarettes (e-cigs) has risen dramatically.  According to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a staggering 11.7 % of high school students have reportedly used an e-cig product, compared to a mere 1.5% of students reporting usage in 2011.  These figures mirror similar findings among middle school surveys indicating a growing trend with age.

Did you know?

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.

E-cigs are electronic devices that function by heating a liquid solution composed of nicotine, flavored additives, humectant, and many other harmful substances/chemicals that create an aerosol upon inhalation. While there are slight differences in flavor options, battery life, and size, both e-cigarettes and vape pens allow the user to consume nicotine products in vapor form. Popular public opinion is that consuming tobacco in this form is “safer” than actual cigarettes.

True/False: Vaping is safer than cigarettes. False

While the flavoring and humectant components have been approved by the FDA for human consumption, the inhalation of such products has not been tested for safety and therefore pose an unknown risk to the user. In addition to addictive nicotine, e-cig vapor contains other harmful substances such as heavy metals, volatile organic chemicals, formaldehyde, powerful irritants, and cancer-causing agents. The long-term effects are unknown.

Factors that influence trying e-cigs/vaping:

  • Exposure to advertisements
  • Perception of being less harmful than cigarettes
  • Social/peer pressure factors
  • Taste options in flavorings
  • Ease of accessibility
  • Glamorized by the media

Latest Challenge

In an attempt to produce a thicker cloud of smoke, teenagers have begun “dripping” a practice where the liquid nicotine is poured directly onto the heating coils of e-cigarettes. This produces harmful byproducts, namely formaldehyde.

Nicotine Poisoning

E-nicotine solution is often colorful and may be attractive to children. Ingesting even small amounts can be fatal to children. Signs of nicotine poisoning include nausea, vomiting, tremors, dizziness, sweating, and rapid heart rate. Seizures and death may occur.

Prevention Tips

Even used liquid nicotine can still have nicotine, so ensure proper disposal to prevent children or pets from accidental poisonings

Vaping products are highly appealing to children due to their color and packaging so always keep nicotine products away and out of reach from children.

Never transfer liquid nicotine to a non-labeled container.

Encourage children to ask an adult about whether a product is safe to consume


About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html

E-cigarettes: facts, stats and regulations. (2018, July 9). Retrieved from https://truthinitiative.org/news/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations

Teens and E-cigarettes. (February 2016). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/teens-e-cigarettes

E-Cigs and Toddlers: Beware (n.d.) Retrieved from


Office of the Surgeon General. Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/surgeon-generals-advisory-on-e-cigarette-use-among-youth-2018.pdf

William Eggleston, Nicholas Nacca, Christine M. Stork & Jeanna M. Marraffa

(2016) Pediatric death after unintentional exposure to liquid nicotine for an electronic cigarette,

Clinical Toxicology, 54:9, 890-891, DOI: 10.1080/15563650.2016.1207081