Drugs & Health Blog

Are E-Cigarettes Harmful?

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The NIDA Blog Team

Have you been to a mall lately? Or maybe your local convenience store? You may have seen electronic cigarettes (known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs) on sale. There is definitely no shortage in supply: e-cigarettes have grown to be a billion-dollar industry with an estimated 460 brands.

And as it turns out, this supply has a sizeable demand—including more and more teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2 million high school students and 450,000 middle school students have used an e-cigarette in the last month. (That’s triple the number of teens using them a year ago.)

Doesn’t Vaping Beat Smoking?

The thinking goes, “If they’re not as bad as cigarettes, then maybe they’re OK.” But your health isn’t a “rock-paper-scissors” game. We still don’t know if e-cigarettes can hurt your lungs. And we do know that they are made to deliver the same highly addictive nicotine as regular cigarettes. This means by using them you can get hooked on nicotine. And, by the way, it’s a very hard drug to quit once you are addicted. Just ask the 90% of current smokers that started while they were teens.

But Don’t People Use e-Cigarettes To Quit Smoking?

You may have heard that e-cigarettes are a great way to kick a smoking habit. But we just don’t have enough research to know. And no e-cigarettes on the market are approved for this purpose.

Plus, some studies have found that as many as 75% of adults who use them still smoke regular cigarettes. And most teens who use e-cigarettes also smoke regular cigarettes too.

What’s The Harm in Nicotine Addiction (If You Don’t Smoke)?

Well, first (and yes, you’ve heard us say this before), the teen brain is still developing. This means that the teen brain is more vulnerable to addiction. Researchers worry that once you get hooked on nicotine through e-cigarettes you’ll start using regular cigarettes. Plus, research suggests that once addicted to nicotine, it may be easier to get addicted to other drugs, such as cocaine.

Still, in the years to come, researchers will learn a lot more about e-cigarettes. But in the meantime, take a page out of the history books and remember that it wasn’t so long ago that doctors didn’t think cigarette smoking was dangerous.

Want to know more? Check out E-Cigarettes: What You Need To Know.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


but the e-cig is better than a cigarette because it doesnt have any tar or anything bad like that!

Hi Caleb, researchers are still studying what the health effects of e-cigarettes are, but they do know they contain nicotine, which is addictive. You can read more about e-cigarettes and some of the health concerns researchers are studying here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

what about the ones that are just vapor and don't have nicotine?

Hi Rory, the vapor is made up of other chemicals, and researchers are still working to figure out how they affect people. You can read more about what's in e-cigarette vapor here: http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/e-cigarettes-what-you-need-to-know

The vapor in some e-cigarettes has been found to contain cancer-causing chemicals, and particles from the vaporizing mechanism may also be harmful. Since e-cigarettes are a new product, we really don't know what the long-term effects of vaping are. You can read more about e-cigarettes here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes

there good for u
Idiot... They're not...
Well I've read that there is many chemicals in the liquid for the vape and that can be more dangerous or just as dangerous, also nicotine is a very hard thing to quit
I don't trust e-cigs because they have got to have something wrong with them.
i think e-cigaretts are the cigaretts of the future, but i think there harmful because there cigaretts.
I think there great
I believe e-cigs can be a healthier alternative to cigarettes. Some of them do not contain nicotine all together and their nicotine levels can be chosen for someone trying to quit and lowered over time eventually to 0. I have friends who used to smoke and now use e-cigs as a means of quitting and have since quit smoking tobacco, yes their have been studies on a few brands that contain carcinogenic chemicals but the majority and more popular trusted brands have shown none of these. I think they are a good alternative for someone who does not do well with other methods of quitting such as nicotine patches.
Can you get addicted to e-cigarretes?

Yes, they contain nicotine, the same addictive substance that is in cigarettes. You can read more about what's in e-cigarettes here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

will vaping make me popular?
I do not believe so my good ma, but remember actual cigarettes will.
e cigarettes are bad because they still contain nicotine and possibly other harmful chemicals
e cigarettes are bad because they have nicotine and possibly other harmful chemicals. just because there isn't tar doesn't mean they're better than cigarettes. nicotine is bad for teens and it may be easier for teens to get addicted to nicotine and then possibly cocaine. after getting addicted to e cigs you may get addicted to regular cigarettes. most adults who use e cigs still use regular cigarettes.
What? Why would me smoking a vape make me addicted to cocaine? Where did that even come from?

A study in mice found that nicotine seems to make brains more sensitive to the addictive effects of other substances, including cocaine. You can read more about that here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/02/nicotine-makes-m...

I think that certain e cigs you buy can be more harmful than others, i know many of my friends who love to vape and if you get a very high quality one and get the non nicotine juice for it, it is simply just a oral pleasure by using it. and is just flavored air you are inhaling instead of a nicotine cigarette with thousands of different types of tar and chemicals in it. if you've ever smoked a cigarette you understand that the next morning you're hocking up what seems to be flem. and it is but the cigarette(s) is causing your body to make that flem to protect your throat from what you've been inhaling into your body
I personally do not belive e-cigs are harmful because it is just water vapor. I also belive it is rediculious for them to say nicotine could make it easier for you to get addicted to other drugs like cocaine concidering they are two diffrent drugs that stimulate different parts of the brain. Your lungs were made to process nothing but air so anything you inhale besides air is going to do your lungs harm so I am not saying they are completely harmless there are just bigger things to worry about such as polution and other chemicals the government dumps into our atmosphere. As far as the nicotine goes nicotine by itself is a relitivly safe drug it is all of the other chemicals in conventinal cigerettes that make them harmful. As far as addiction goes I belive people can make there own desicions in determining what they put into there body it also has to do with self control and the ability for you to say ive had enough... everything in moderation.

They actually aren't just water vapor. Most have a mix of chemicals including propylene glycol, clycerol, nicotine and flavorings, in addition to water. You can read more here: http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/e-cigarettes-what-you-need-to-know

Your right
I think that e-cigs can be bad but also have its benefits to them. for anyone that is smoking regular cigarettes using an e-cig as a replacment can slow the rate of the regular smoking down. Soon you can also drop nicotine levels on the e-cig and eventually go to no nicotine at all. But other than that e-cigs dont really bring any other type of help to the typical person.
E cigs still have nicotine and teenagers might get addicted and move to regular cigarettes.Also Its prably more expensive than cigarettes so thats money for the people who make it.Also kids might think its better to get this because its just vapor but they don't know it has nicotine in it.Also people might just get addicted to the flavor so they would just get addicted to it.
They taste good
Yep that's definitely the biggest problem. If these companies didn't make them so flavorful they probably wouldn't be so popular amongst underage users.
e cigarettes are not a better alternative to cigarettes, they still contain nicotine and other chemicals. they my also still cause lung damage due to these chemicals. you can still get addicted to e cigs and possibly move on to regular cigarettes and then possibly other drugs. the nicotine may also make you go onto other drugs and become addicted to those too. it's best to just avoid any addicted substance to make sure you stay safe.
I don't understand! Aren't e-cigarettes a good thing? I used to smoke and after doing so for about a year, I was totally addicted, couldn't stop chain-smoking all the time and had a chronic cough, I had to use both Zyban and nicotine replacement products to quit, but some people just can't seem to quit, for those people E-cigarettes are a hundred times healthier. I don't think anyone would advise someone who's nicotine-free to start up using e-cigs, but for those who've tried to quit time and time again but can't e- cigarettes are a far healthier choice. Why aren't public health officials looking at this as a breakthrough in harm reduction, instead of decrying what they see as another vice, it isn't a new drug, just a much safer version of an old one.
E-cigarettes helped me quit smoking and I have not touched a normal cigarette since. Once I switched to e-cigarettes, after just one day my throat stopped hurting and after months of having quit cigarettes I can now run and enjoy breathing. E-cigarettes saved my life. I can enjoy my smoking routine without risking my life. E-Cigarettes are probably less dangerous. It can never be as toxic as cigarette smoke. As we all know that electronic cigarette is clearly an outstanding alternative of traditional cigarette.

Congratulations on quitting cigarette smoking. That’s a tremendous accomplishment. And as a former smoker, your risk of many smoking related diseases is reduced. However, there is a lot we do not know about vaporized nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and recent research suggests nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Also, testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.

All this is insane. It's more dangerous pump gas and smell fumes, the everyday cleavers you use in your home, the hairspray.. I mean vaping leading to other drugs, while marajuama is becoming legal. So much time and money wasted on trivial stuff.
Though it isnt a 100% harmful, but Electronic cigarettes are at least less harmful than tobacco smoking.
can e cigs be a good thing to help quit smoking tho

E-cigarettes are a pretty new product, so researchers are still investigating them. For now, you can read up on e-cigarettes at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

I am 50 years old and my story is not a scientific but like that; I started e cigarette early 2015 and after 6 months I felt fel down sleep like sleep apnea or what else but I felt so healty, no pain at lung, no breathless and all perfect condition, so I started to I fel down sleep when I look my phone, tv or also talking with someone, I made serious car accident but god and vw help us and all we are fine with my family, so I started doctor for check my problem, they decided sleep apnea in may 2016, my e cigarette had a failure in june, so I started again ciagarette and order a new e-cigarette, after 2 months I realized that I haven't sleep apnea or what else, nothing chane in my life without stopped e-cigarette, maybe this is really coincidence but now I am so good, that's all.....
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