Personal Health Care
  Vaping/E-Cigarette Information  

Tobacco and Vapor 21 Law

On January 1, 2020 a new law went into effect in Washington State that makes it illegal to sell tobacco and vapor products to anyone under age 21.

Why is this law important?

  • Helps prevent initiation. Most people that smoke cigarettes start before age 18 and become addicted to nicotine.
  • Reduces tobacco related deaths and improves health. Every year 8,000 people in Washington die from tobacco related illnesses.
  • Decreases and delays youth use. Studies from the Institute of Medicine show raising the age to purchase tobacco will decrease youth initiation by 25%.


  • Vapes or e-cigarettes are battery operated drug delivery devices. There are many different types of e-cigarettes but most contain a battery and atomizer that heat up a liquid into a vapor that is inhaled. Most often the liquid contains nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. E-cigarette use is often referred to as vaping. E-cigarettes are also used to deliver other drugs such as marijuana.

Are Vapes/E-Cigarettes Safe?

  • FDA testing found that e-cigarettes can contain harmful chemicals. 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 often contain nicotine, a toxic and highly addictive substance.

  • Nicotine use is harmful during pregnancy. It can lead to premature birth and low birth weight.

  • E-cigarette vapor is not harmless. It exposes the lungs to a variety of chemicals including nicotine, ultrafine particles, and heavy metals.  

Vapes/E-cigarettes and Youth

Vaping is common among teens. In Thurston County more youth use vapes/e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes.

  • E-cigarettes often contain nicotine. Nicotine is the same drug that makes cigarettes addictive.

  • Nicotine activates the limbic system more strongly in the adolescent brain making addiction a greater risk for youth who use nicotine.

  • Youth can become addicted to nicotine quickly. Nicotine changes the way the teen brain works and can negatively impact learning.

Learn more at: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/getthefacts.html

Do Vapes/E-Cigarettes help you to 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

What do we know about the health effects of secondhand vapor?

  • The vapor created by e-cigarettes is not harmless. Initial studies have shown the vapor contains a variety of chemicals including nicotine, ultrafine particles, and heavy metals. The quantity of the carcinogens is less than what is found in traditional cigarettes.

  • The report Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine found that while e-cigarettes are likely to pose less risks than conventional cigarettes, there is also:

    • Conclusive evidence that e-cigarette use increases airborne concentrations of particulate matter and nicotine in indoor environments compared with background levels.

    • Conclusive evidence that most e-cigarette products contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances, with the amounts and characteristics depending on the device and e-liquid used.

  • Vaping in not allowed in indoor public places and places of employment or outdoor youth oriented places. Free signage is available. Download, order free signage, and ask questions at vapefree@co.thurston.wa.us. Learn more about the law at: https://bit.ly/ThurstonVapeFree

Resources for Parents


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  • Kateri Wimsett
  • Tobacco Prevention & Control Coordinator



This page last updated: 01/28/22