E-Cigarettes and Vaping Prevention

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other ingredients to the user.  Using e-cigarettes is sometimes called "vaping".  E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other dangerous chemicals. They are NOT safe.


What is “vaping”?

“Vaping” is a term introduced by the electronic smoking device industry to refer to any electronic "vaporizer", such as E-cigs, Vapes, vape pens, vaporizers, and E-hookahs. The term incorrectly lead people to believe that using electronic vaporizers produces a harmless water vapor. These devices produce potentially harmful aerosols that are inhaled into the lungs and exhaled into the environment.


What do e-cigarettes look like?

  • E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.  Larger e-cigarettes such as tank systems - or "mods" - do not look like other tobacco products.


  • Some e-cigarettes look like other items commonly used by youth, such as pens and other everyday items. New e-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives are popular among youth, including JUUL and the PAX Era, which looks like JUUL and delivers marijuana.



Is there a difference between e-cigarettes and JUUL?

  • JUUL may look different, but it is a one type of pod-based e-cigarettes and one of popular e-cigarette brands.
  • All pod-based e-cigarettes, including JUUL contain highly addictive nicotine, roughly as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes (41.3 milligrams of nicotine).
  • They can allow for more frequent use, increasing their potential for addiction because it feels less harsh on the throat.
  • The aerosol cloud produced by a JUUL might not look as thick as other e-cigarettes or regular cigarette smoke, but it still contains many of the same chemicals and has the same health risks.


Aren’t e-cigarettes less harmful than traditional cigarettes?  Isn’t it just water vapor?

E-cigarettes still contain many of the same chemicals in traditional cigarettes. The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes isn’t water vapor and it isn’t harmless. It can contain harmful substances, including:

  • Nicotine
  • Cancer-causing chemicals (e.g. formaldehyde)
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Flavorings that have been linked to lung disease
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
  • Acrolein: used as a weed killer and can cause irreversible lung damage.


Why flavors?

Flavored e-cigarettes have been banned since January 2020 since they appeal to kids and teens. E-juice and JUUL pods flavored like fruit, mint or other treats carry the same health risks as the unflavored products. The flavorings are also made up of chemicals that are not safe to be inhaled into the lungs.


What are the health risks of vaping for youth?

  • Nicotine exposure during adolescence can:
    • Harm brain development, which continues until about age 25
    • Impact learning, memory, and concentration, self-control, attention and mood
    • Increase risk for future addiction to other drugs
  • Youth who vape are more likely to go on to use traditional cigarettes.
  • In the short term, e-cigarette aerosol can irritate your lungs, throat and eyes. It can also make it more likely that you’ll catch colds or get the flu.


Is it legal for teens to Vape or buy e-cigarettes?

  • It is NOT legal for teens to buy e-cigarettes. Beginning October 1, 2019, minimum age for buying all tobacco products in Maryland is 21 years old.
  • Many schools have added e-cigarettes to their tobacco-free school policies and the consequences for using them on school grounds are often the same as smoking cigarettes.


 Can e-cigarettes help someone quit?

  • Many research studies have found that e-cigarettes are NOT safe and NOT effective in quitting smoking.
  • If you know someone who wants to quit smoking, they can call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit Lung.org to learn about quitting safely



  1. American Lung Association (July 13, 2020). E-cigarettes. https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/e-cigarettes-vaping/lung-health.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Feb. 24, 2020). About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) https://www-cdc-gov.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html.
  3. Tobacco Prevention Toolkit. E-cigs/Vapes & Pod-Based. https://med.stanford.edu/tobaccopreventiontoolkit/E-Cigs.html
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (January 2020). FDA finalizes enforcement policy on unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes that appeal to children, including fruit and mint. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-enforcement-policy-unauthorized-flavored-cartridge-based-e-cigarettes-appeal-children.