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Electronic Cigarettes

What you Need to Know

You may have heard of e-cigarettes, e-pens, e-pipes or vape pens. What are they? How do they work? And are they safe?

These devices are officially known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). They contain a liquid cartridge that, when heated, produces a vapor that the user inhales. This is often called “vaping.” Some of these devices are made to look like regular cigarettes or pipes, but others are disguised to look like writing pens, USB drives or other ordinary household items.

Marketers have promoted ENDS as a “safe” alternative to smoking. But experts warn that consumers should beware. E-cigarettes don’t contain tar or produce tobacco smoke. Most of these products, however, do contain nicotine and other harmful substances and are not safe for young adults, pregnant women and adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

On the rise

The popularity of these devices has caught the attention of government agencies. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in to regulate ENDS products. New FDA regulations classify the devices as tobacco products. You now must be 18 years of age or older to purchase them.

In 2016, the surgeon general’s report warned about the increase in e-cigarette use among Americans. Researchers noted a disturbing trend of middle- and high school-age children using the devices. According to a 2018 survey, nearly 4 million teenagers had used a vape in the last 30 days. The report also found that e-cigarette manufacturers were targeting young people in the same way tobacco companies did in the past.

Nicotine addiction poses a greater risk to young people. It affects their developing brains. Nicotine can also harm long-term cognitive thinking and increase the risk of addiction to other drugs.

Much still unknown

Scientists are still studying the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. Research continues on the safety of vaporizing nicotine and other chemicals in ENDS. The FDA hasn’t approved any ENDS device as a smoking cessation aid. Talk with your doctor about finding a clear and safe path to a smoke-free you!