E-cigarettes, Vapes, and Other Tobacco Products

Smoking & COVID-19

Smoking tobacco may increase the risk of serious complications from novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Now is a good time to quit for keeps. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or enroll online for free help.

E-cigarettes, also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), e-pipes, hookah pens, JUULs, mods, vape pens, or vapes are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale aerosolized liquid (e-liquid).  Anyone who uses e-cigarettes, or who is considering using e-cigarettes needs to be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping. 

The long-term health effects of vaping are unknown.   What we do know is that e-cigarettes and other ENDS products produce aerosol, not harmless “water vapor”.  This aerosol can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances including nicotine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such nickel, tin, and lead.

Adults & E-Cigarette Use

While many adults attempt to quit using traditional forms of tobacco by switching to e-cigarettes, these products are not FDA-approved quitting aids and they are not proven to help people quit.  Free quitting medications and counseling are available to all South Carolinians by calling the SC Tobacco Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or by visiting www.quitnow.net/southcarolina.

  • E-cigarettes produce several dangerous chemicals, including acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, which can cause lung disease, as well as cardiovascular disease.
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.  
  • Many e-liquids contain more nicotine than a regular cigarette.  One JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. 
  • Exposure to e-cigarette aerosol may be a trigger for adults with breathing problems, such as asthma, increasing the risk of a severe asthma attack.
  • Acute nicotine exposure can be toxic.  Poisonings have resulted from swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-liquid through the skin.  
  • Nicotine is not safe for pregnant women and their developing babies.

E-cigarettes & Vapes: Basic Facts

Youth, E-Cigarettes, & Nicotine

Youth e-cigarette use has been declared an epidemic by the US Surgeon General.  In South Carolina, e-cigarette use among high school youth surpasses use of other tobacco products.  E-cigarette use among SC high school students increased by 21% between 2015 and 2017.

Get more data on SC youth e-cigarette use from the SC Youth Tobacco Survey.

  • E-cigarettes and other ENDS products have evolved to look like a variety of everyday objects.  Some still look like regular cigarettes but others look like USB sticks, highlighters, pens, and other innocent items.    
  • Kids are more at risk for the harmful effects of e-cigarette use because the brain continues to develop until about the age of 25.  Exposing the adolescent brain to nicotine can disrupt attention, learning, and memory.  
  • Even in small doses, nicotine exposure in adolescence can cause long-lasting changes in brain development and future addiction.  
  • Recent evidence shows that compared to youth who have never tried e-cigarettes, youth who have tried e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke combustible cigarettes in the future.  
  • No amount of nicotine is safe for youth.  
  • The aerosol from e-cigarettes can trigger breathing problems, such as asthma.

Youth Risks & E-cigarettes

Parents and caregivers can influence the decision to use e-cigarettes or other ENDS products.  If you use tobacco products, your child or teen is also likely to use tobacco products.  If you use tobacco, set a good example and try to quit.  For free help call the SC Tobacco Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Other ways to help your child or teen include:

  • Talk to your child about the risks associated with e-cigarette use
  • Make an appointment for your child to talk to their doctor about the risks associated with e-cigarette use
  • Talk to teachers or school administrators about enforcement of the school’s tobacco-free campus policy and youth tobacco prevention curriculum
  • Encourage your child or teen to learn the facts and get tips for quitting

Resources for parents:

Resources for healthcare providers:

Resources for educators:

Get more information on E-Cigarette and Vaping Product Use Related to Lung Injury (EVALI).