Beware the Dangers of Vaping

How to help protect yourself and your family.

Vaping has become a popular option instead of cigarettes. But it can cause serious health issues, both to those who vape and the people around them. Learn more about vaping and how it’s not as safe as some people may think.

What is vaping?

Vaping involves using a battery-powered device such as an e-cigarette or vape pen to heat liquid filled with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. Once heated, this liquid turns into a vapor that can be inhaled. E-cigarettes can also be used to vape marijuana, herbs and oils such as hemp.

E-cigarettes are illegal to buy unless you’re 21 or older. However, it’s easy to order them online. In 2019, more than 25% of high school students said they used e-cigarettes in the last month.1

Some companies sell the liquid cartridges in flavors such as chocolate, bubble gum and mango. And it’s working: 68% of high school e-cigarette users prefer flavors such as menthol, candy and fruit.2

The vapor: Not as innocent as you may think

Contrary to popular belief, the vapor from e-cigarettes is not water. It’s made of harmful chemicals and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Some of these chemicals include:

  • Propylene (a common ingredient found in antifreeze)
  • Diethylene glycol (a poisonous industrial solvent)
  • Nitrosamines (potential cancer-causing agents)

Device and e-liquid dangers

The e-liquid contains nicotine and can cause poisoning if it comes into contact with a person’s skin. Symptoms include vomiting, seizures, sweating, dizziness and trouble breathing.

If you or someone in your household vapes, it’s important to keep the e-liquid away from children. All it takes is less than half a teaspoon of nicotine to kill a small child.3 And in some instances, e-cigarettes have exploded, causing serious burns and injuries.

Why vaping isn’t better than cigarettes

E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as a safe way to quit smoking. Vaping still puts nicotine into the body. In addition to being highly addictive, nicotine can slow brain development in teens. The brain continues to grow until age 25, and nicotine can change how synapses are formed. This can harm the parts of the brain that control memory, attention, learning, self-control and mood.

Vaping: A possible pathway to other addictions

Of the high schoolers who smoke regular cigarettes, 70% also use e-cigarettes.4 Using e-cigarettes makes it more likely that a person will try other substances or tobacco products, such as:

  • Regular cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Hookahs
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine

The long-term effects of vaping

Despite being relatively new, there are already reports of people who vape having serious lung damage. Experts have also discovered that even secondhand exposure to e-cigarette vapor is harmful to growing lungs. Young people who vape are at higher risk for long-term effects due to nicotine exposure. These include addiction, mood disorders and lowered impulse control.

If you or someone in your home uses e-cigarettes, think about quitting for your health and the health of those around you.

By Shauna Block, Contributing Writer


1American Academy of Pediatrics. E-Cigarettes and Vaping: What Parents Need to Know. Accessed May 19, 2020.
2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Get the facts. Accessed May 19, 2020.
3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The facts on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. Accessed May 19, 2020. TeensHealth. Vaping: What You Need to Know. Accessed May 19, 2020.

Last Updated April 30, 2020

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