Smoking & COVID-19

Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

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). 

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
  • Heavy metals such nickel, tin, and lead

While many adult tobacco users attempt to quit by switching to e-cigarettes, these products are not FDA-approved quitting aids.  Free FDA-approved quit medications are available to all South Carolina tobacco users through the SC Tobacco Quitline. 

Learn more at www.quitnowsc.org

Basic Facts

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.  
  • One JUUL pod can contain 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.
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) Factsheet (pdf)
  • CDC Electronic Cigarette Basics (CDC Office on Smoking and Health)

Youth, E-Cigarettes, & Nicotine

Youth e-cigarette use has been declared an epidemic by the US Surgeon General. In South Carolina, high school students are more likely to vape than they are to smoke. Get more data on SC youth e-cigarette use from the SC Youth Tobacco Survey.

  • E-cigarettes/vapes 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/vape use because the brain continues to develop until about the age of 25. Exposing the adolescent brain to nicotine can disrupt attention, mood, 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/vapes, youth who have tried e-cigarettes/vapes are more likely to smoke combustible cigarettes in the future.  
  • No amount of nicotine is safe for youth.  
  • The aerosol from e-cigarettes/vapes can trigger breathing problems, such as asthma.

Support Your Teen

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.

  • Make an appointment for your child to talk to their doctor about the risks associated with e-cigarette/vape 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

Quit Vaping

For Teens

For Adults

Teenagers aren't the only ones vaping.  The resources below provide quit support for all commercial tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and do not focus specifically on teens ages 13-18.    

  • Smokefree.gov provides a suite of resources to help people quit all commercial tobacco products.  Find quit support apps, quit plan advice, and links to free quit support for adults and for youth.  
  • The SC Tobacco Quitline provides free quit support for all commercial tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vapes, for people ages 13 and older.  

Additional Resources


Healthcare Providers


E-Cigarette and Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)

EVALI is a serious lung injury associated with e-cigarette use and vaping.  In 2019, SC DHEC worked with the CDC to monitor EVALI cases in SC.  Learn more about EVALI.  Click here for SC EVALI data.