Personal Health Care
  Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)  

E-cigarettes are battery-operated disposable or rechargeable devices designed to deliver nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. There are three main pieces to an e-cigarette: the battery, the vaporizer or atomizer, and the cartridge which contains the liquid nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.  While some e-cigarettes are designed to look similar to a cigarette many look like everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks.

IMAGE: E-Cigarettes  IMAGE: E-Cigarettes IMAGE: E-Cigarettes   

Are E-Cigarettes Safe to Use?

E-cigarettes may contain known harmful substances. FDA testing found that they contain carcinogens, which are substances that cause cancer. They also found that the e-cigarettes tested had varying levels of nicotine, which is highly addictive, that did not always match what the packaging said. E-cigarettes are currently unregulated, which means there is no way of knowing how much nicotine or other chemicals they contain.  Based on this information and no scientific studies demonstrating they are safe to use, e-cigarettes are considered a potential health risk. Very young children are at a higher risk for accidental exposure to liquid nicotine that may be contained in the cartridges. Nicotine can be toxic if ingested. If an e-cigarette cartridge is broken, it could poison a child or pet. Like other toxics, e-cigarettes should be kept up and away from young children. 

Do E-Cigarettes Help You Stop Smoking?

E-Cigarettes are not medically approved cessation devices, which means they are not recommended to help you stop smoking. There are safe and effective cessation options available. You can learn more about medically approved cessation options at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm198176.htm

Youth and E-Cigarettes

One major concern about e-cigarettes is whether they are being marketed to young people. Since they contain nicotine, youth can become addicted. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. There is concern that using e-cigarettes may lead young people to using other nicotine products like hookah and cigarillos (flavored cigars) which we know can lead to disease and premature death. Over 90% of people who become regular smokers start smoking before age 18. We know from recent reports and local data that youth are using e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are available in a variety of kid friendly flavors such as bubblegum and chocolate. These flavors have been banned in traditional cigarettes because of concerns over marketing to youth.

Resources for Parents


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  • Kateri Wimsett
  • Tobacco Prevention & Control Coordinator



This page last updated: 03/10/14