Vaping: What you need to know

Vapes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid with nicotine, marijuana, or flavorings. Some vapes contain other unknown substances or chemicals. When heated, the liquid turns into aerosol, which people inhale or puff.

What are other common names for vapes?

Common names include electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), e-cigarettes, e-cigs, electronic cigarettes, e-hookahs, vape pens, and mods.

What drugs are in vapes?

Common drugs include nicotine, a highly addictive drug found in tobacco products including cigarettes, and THC, the main mind-altering component of marijuana. Both can impact how a person’s lungs and brain work, especially the developing brains of teenagers. Both drugs can put teens at risk for other drug use.

Are vapes tested for safety?

Companies that sell vapes in the U.S. must apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization. The FDA reviews the products to see if they meet regulatory guidelines. Because these products are new, the FDA is still in the process of determining which ones may continue to be sold. Another challenge is that some vaping products that can be purchased online are not regulated. This means they may contain dangerous ingredients or defective parts.

Vapes vs. cigarettes

Some studies suggest that vaping nicotine may be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes and could be a way to wean adults off smoking. However, vapes are not currently an FDA-approved quit-aid. More research is needed to further test vape safety and effectiveness for this potential use.

What are some of the dangers of e-cigarettes?

In mid-2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting on cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, including deaths. These lung injuries are linked to vitamin E acetate, which is mostly found in vaping products containing THC, but some patients reported using a mixture of THC and nicotine or nicotine alone. 

COVID-19

People who smoke or vape may be at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 since the disease affects the lungs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is researching COVID-19 in people who vape nicotine and marijuana to better understand what risk factors can lead to worse disease outcomes.  

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