What are e-cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) is a nicotine delivery device that consists, at its most basic, of battery, a heating element, and simple switch.  Inside, a cartridge containing nicotine mixed with glycerin (vegetable oil) is heated to produce a vapor (where the term “vaping” comes from); often these cartridges come in fruity flavors, such as strawberry, bubble gum, or mint. [1]

What’s the problem with electronic cigarettes?

There’s many.  First, and foremost, since they’re not yet regulated by the FDA, we‘re not 100% sure what’s in them.  Some of them may be labeled as “nicotine-free,” but studies done by the FDA have found traces of nicotine in those.  Other studies have found chemicals like diethylene glycol (also found in antifreeze), as well as formaldehyde.  There’s also no way to know the amount of nicotine that is being inhaled with each puff.


Stanford School of Medicine has a great collection of advertisements, comparing ads from traditional cigarettes to current electronic cigarette ads. Think they’re not the same?  Take a look and see how similar they are.  According to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, e-cigarette use among teenagers is skyrocketing and these nearly identical marketing tactics are partially to blame.  Their tactics include things like sponsoring events especially popular with younger teens, like concert series that include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga and advertising in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated using celebrities to market the product.[2]




Where can I get more information?

In December 2016, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy released a new report about e-cigarette use among youth and young adults.  This report found that e-cigarettes are now “the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs.” The major conclusions from the report are:

  1. E-cigarettes are a rapidly emerging and diversified product class.  These devices typically deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to users via an inhaled aerosol.  These devices are referred to by a variety of names, including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “Vapes,” and “tank systems.”
  2. E-cigarette use among youth and young adults has become a public health concern.  In 2014, current use of e-cigarettes by young adults 18-24 years of age surpassed that of adults 25 years of age and older.
  3. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes in 2014.  E-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, including combustible tobacco products.
  4. The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women, and fetuses.  The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including in e-cigarettes, is unsafe.
  5. E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful constituents, including nicotine.  Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.
  6. E-cigarettes are marketed by promoting flavors and using a wide variety of media channels and approaches that have been used in the past for marketing conventional tobacco products to youth and young adults.
  7. Action can be taken at the national, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels to address e-cigarette use among youth and young adults.  Actions could include incorporating e-cigarettes into smokefree policies, preventing access to e-cigarettes by youth, price and tax policies, retail licensure, regulation of e-cigarette marking likely to attract youth, and educational initiatives targeting youth and young adults. [3]


The full Executive Summary and the full report can be found by clicking the links, along with fact sheets and parent tip sheets.



[1] Addiction Medicine Services.  2014, December 4.  “SAP Networker BLAST,” page 1.

[2] Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.  2015, June 17.  “E-Cigarette Marketing Continues to Mirror Cigarette Marketing.” http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/tobacco_unfiltered/post/2015_06_17_ecig.

[3] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, Executive Summary. 2016.

Home     |     Calendar     |     Contact Us

Web Design by Blue Archer