What is vaping?

Vaping is inhaling a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping device.

E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth since 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2018, CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data showed that more than 3.6 million youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, were past-month e-cigarette users. In the last two years, the use has skyrocketed so high among youth that the Surgeon General has called the use of these products among youth a national epidemic.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine, flavorings and other ingredients to the user. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. However, the aerosol substance, or vapor, created by e-cigarettes can also contain:

  • Ultrafine harmful particles that are inhaled deeply into the lungs
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead

Why do people vape?

  • A friend or family member vapes
  • The taste is appealing, including cigarette flavors
  • There is a belief that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes
  • Curiosity
  • The smell – there is less odor with vaping
  • It’s easily hidden
  • There is an underlying nicotine addiction

Nicotine and vaping in teens

Nicotine exposure in adolescence can harm brain development. Since the brain is not fully developed until after teenage years, there is concern that nicotine use may actually re-wire the brain; impact learning, memory and attention; and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.

In light of this information, and with recent reports of severe illnesses and death linked to vaping in the U.S., we encourage parents and caregivers to be familiar with e-cigarettes so they can play a role in protecting children from their harmful effects.


Different vaping devices

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes, and others look like other items commonly used by youth such as pens and flash drives. They also come in kid-friendly flavors, which make them more appealing to youth.

Vaping devices may be referred to as:

  • E-cigs
  • E-hookahs
  • Vapes
  • Vape pens, dab pens and dab rigs
  • Tanks
  • Mods
  • Pod-Mods
  • Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)