Is vaping safe?

Vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, has risen dramatically in recent years, bringing with it lots of questions and confusion. Be informed about vaping with Extension's tip sheet.

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that heats a liquid solution containing nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals. When heated, this liquid becomes an aerosol that is breathed in by the user. The use of an e-cigarette is often called vaping, even though these devices actually produce an aerosol, not a vapor. E-cigarettes have various names, including:

  • E-cigs
  • E-hookahs
  • Vapes Vape pens
  • Mods
  • Tank systems
  • Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)

Does e-cigarette use affect a person’s health?

Yes. E-cigarette use has been found to be associated with detrimental effects on multiple body systems, include circulation and respiratory. E-cigarette use may also result in symptoms of dependence. In youth, e-cigarette use also increases the likelihood of traditional tobacco use. E-cigarettes have less health risks compared to smoking and other forms of tobacco use; however, the long-term effects of e-cigarette use on health remain unknown.

Do e-cigarettes help smokers quit?

Maybe. At the time of this being released, there is one electronic cigarette approved by the FDA to help smokers either quit or reduce their use. This approval only pertains to one specific product and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges device. Quitting benefits of other e-cigarette products have not been verified.

Is secondhand exposure a concern with e-cigarettes?

Yes. The aerosol from e-cigarette use contains a number of harmful substances, including nicotine as well as toxins and ultrafine particles known to cause cancer. In addition, non-smokers appear to absorb similar levels of nicotine from e-cigarette aerosol as from conventional cigarette smoke.

AuthorAllen Barton, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign