Considering vaping instead of smoking? Check out the truth about e-cigarettes before you pick one up.
What is vaping?
Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called vaping, from the word vapor. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid to release an aerosol (vapor) inhaled by the user. The liquid can contain propylene glycol, nicotine, flavorings and other substances. E-cig makers and supporters claim they provide a healthier alternative to smoking. Many users think they are an acceptable way to use nicotine where smoking isn’t allowed.
What are the risks?
While e-cigarette vapor may have fewer toxic substances than cigarette smoke, e-cig users are still exposed to nicotine, which is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical, as well as toxins, metals and contaminants. Non-users around them also may be exposed to these harmful chemicals through the exhaled vapor. And the liquid can be toxic if eaten or absorbed through the skin – a poisoning risk to young children in users’ households.
Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. It’s one of the most preventable causes of death and disease. Adults and kids are smoking cigarettes less, but still using e-cigs and other tobacco products. Vaping may help re-normalize tobacco use and get kids started, even leading them to regular cigarettes over time. E-cigarettes are one of the most common tobacco products used by middle and high school students. A 2015 national survey reported that about 3 million students use them, an increase of 900% over the last 5 years.
Can it really help me stop smoking?
E-cigarettes are sometimes marketed as a way to quit smoking, but there is little conclusive scientific evidence that it works. One study reported adult smokers who used e-cigs were 28% less likely to quit successfully. The American Heart Association recommends using proven methods to quit smoking. The Association continues to advocate for strong regulation of e-cigarettes, such as including them in smoke-free policies, and restricting flavorings and marketing to kids.
What’s the bottom line?
If you don’t currently use tobacco, don’t try vaping because you think it’s “cool” or “safe.” There is no such thing as a risk-free tobacco product. For true health, tobacco-free is the way to be!
Last Reviewed 12/2016
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