Is Vaping Safe?

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that work by heating a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales and exhales. The e-cigarette liquid typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, and other chemicals. Nicotine is an addictive drug found in regular cigarettes and other tobacco products. Research shows that e-cigarette aerosol often contains substances that can be harmful, including flavoring chemicals (like diacetyl, which is linked to lung disease), metals (like lead), and other cancer-causing chemicals. 

History of Vaping

  • 2007 - E-cigarettes entered the U.S. marketplace.
  • 2009 - Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is established for public education, policy, and research. FDA announces a ban on combustible tobacco cigarettes with fruit, candy, or clove flavorings.
  • 2010 - The Pact Act, also known as Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking, was started and passed by Congress.
  • 2011 - Between 2011 and 2013, a 900% increase in e-cigarette use among middle and high school students.
  • 2015 - E-cigarettes becomes the most commonly used tobacco by U.S. youth; 3.26 million have used a flavored product.
  • 2019 - "The National Academy of Sciences Report" concluded that evidence that e-cigarette use increases the frequency and intensity of cigarette smoking in the future. 50% of the population now lives in a state or community that has passed a Tobacco 21 law.
  • 2020 - Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act puts vaping into the PACT Act (including anything that can be used to vape any liquid or oil-based substance.
  • 2021 - On March 27, 2021, Congress amended the PACT Act to include new regulations regarding the delivery and sales of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) which include e-cigarettes, vapes, flavored, and smokeless tobacco.

Perception of Vaping as Low Risk

For many youths, vaping is seen as less harmful, better, and cheaper than smoking cigarettes.2 Since no combustion occurs during the vaping process, those who vape consider nicotine vaping products to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes because many do not produce tar or carbon monoxide.13 Former smokers believe their breathing is less affected by nicotine vaping than smoking traditional cigarettes, and others see it as a harmless alternative to smoking.79-81 However, these perceptions are incorrect, and vaping still presents a number of harms.

This complicated and continually evolving environment makes oversight over vaping devices and products increasingly challenging, particularly at the state and local levels, and supports the need for preventive policy and evidence-based approaches to reduce rates of vaping by youth and young adults in the United States.

Vaping Terminology

  • Nicotine vaping: Use of vaping devices to inhale nicotine
  • Cannabis vaping: Use of vaping devices to inhale cannabis
  • THC vaping: Use of vaping devices to inhale THC
  • Flavor vaping: Use of vaping devices to inhale flavored liquids other than tobacco
  • Vaping: Inclusive of all types of vaping products or when the type of product is unspecified

Known Vape Chemicals

E-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

  • Nicotine
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.
  • flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.
  • volatile organic compounds.
  • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.


What Can Parents Do

  • Learn about the different shapes and types of e-cigarettes and the risks of all forms of e-cigarette use for young people.
  • Talk to your children about the risks of e-cigarette use among young people. Express firm expectations that your children do not use e-cigarettes or tobacco products.
  • Do not buy any e-cigarettes or tobacco products for your teen.
  • Set a positive example by not using e-cigarettes or tobacco products.
  • Support raising the legal age to buy e-cigarettes or tobacco products to age 21.
  • Visit

Text Quit to 202-899-7550 / Georgia Tobacco Quit Line: 1-877-270-STOP (7867)

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