Can you die if you use tobacco, nicotine, and vaping (e-cigarette) products?

Reports of Deaths Related to Vaping

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has alerted the public to thousands of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including dozens of deaths. They’re working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the cause of these illnesses. Many of the suspect products tested by the states or federal health officials have been identified as vaping products containing THC, the main psychotropic (mind-altering) ingredient in marijuana. Some of the patients reported vaping a mixture of THC and nicotine; and some reported vaping nicotine alone. (For more details, read this blog post.) While the CDC and FDA continue to investigate possible other contributing substances, CDC has identified a thickening agent—Vitamin E acetate—as a chemical of concern among people with e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injuries. They recommend that people should not use any product containing Vitamin E acetate, or any vaping products containing THC; particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person and online dealers. They also warn against modifying any products purchased in stores, or using any vaping products bought on the street. The FDA is asking people, including health professionals, to report any adverse (negative) effects of vaping products. The CDC has posted an information page for consumers.

Yes. Tobacco use (both smoked and smokeless) is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It is a known cause of cancer. Smoking tobacco cigarettes also can lead to early death from heart disease, health problems in children, and accidental home and building fires caused by dropped cigarettes. In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias); as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day.7 On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.8 People who smoke are at increased risk of death from cancer, particularly lung cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, and accidental injury from fires started by dropped cigarettes.

The good news is that people who quit may live longer. A 24-year-old man who quits smoking will, on average, increase his life expectancy (how long he is likely to live) by 5 years.9

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: 2014 Surgeon General’s Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. Atlanta, GA. 2014. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/index.htm.

8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. Atlanta, GA. February 2019. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm.

9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA. 1990. HHS Publication No. 90-8416.