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Electronic Cigarette Health Risks and Concerns

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Electronic cigarettes are part of a broader category of vapor products or Electronic Nicotine Devices (ENDS). Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, have been advertised as a safer cigarette. However, there is no proof that they are safe to use. Since these products are so new, the health effects of e-cigarettes are not completely known yet. Recent research is beginning to show that there are some major health risks and concerns associated with e-cigarettes that users and non-users should be aware of.

E-cigarettes are part of a broad class of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). ENDS are battery-powered devices that heat cartridges filled with nicotine, flavors, and other additives and deliver an aerosol, or “vapor” to the user to inhale. ENDS products include:
  • E-hookahs 
  • Hookah Pens
  • Vape Pens 
  • E-cigars
  • Other vapor products

What We Know About E-cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical.
  • E-cigarettes may expose users to toxic chemicals
  • The vapor emitted from e-cigarettes is not clean air and may expose non-users to toxic chemicals and nicotine.
  • E-cigarette use and exposure poses a risk during pregnancy. Nicotine can pass through the placenta to the fetus and can negatively affect lung, heart, and brain development.
  • Nicotine in its pure form is a poison. E-cigarette companies are not required to child proof their products. If ingested, e-cigarette cartridges pose a poisoning risk for children.
  • E-cigarettes introduce youth to nicotine addiction. Nicotine has been proven to affect adolescent brain development and can have lasting consequences. 
  • E-cigarettes are in the process of being regulated. New regulations will require review of ingredients, how they are manufactured, and their potential dangers.
  • E-cigarettes contain nicotine and may keep people hooked on tobacco products leading to relapse or dual use.
  • E-cigarettes are not an approved smoking cessation aid. There is very limited research done on e-cigarette’s impact on tobacco cessation and results have been mixed. We do know that there are safe and effective choices that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, and inhaler.
  • E-cigarettes are a major concern for our efforts to prevent youth tobacco use. We know that almost 90% of all smokers begin smoking as teenagers. E-cigarette use and experimentation among adolescents in the last few years has increased dramatically. E-cigarettes make it easier for youth and first-time tobacco uses to try smoking. Once a person becomes addicted to nicotine, they may begin to use other tobacco products. 

Chatham County E-Cigarette Information Sheet

Chatham County E-Cigarette Information Sheet (Spanish)

Please click on the resources below to review important scientific evidence on electronic cigarettes:

North Carolina Tobacco Prevention & Control Branch E-Cigarette Health Advisory Materials

2016 Surgeon General Report on E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults Fact Sheet

Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes and Young People

Tip Sheet for Parents to Help Them Talk with Their Kids

North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey: Middle School and High School Fact Sheet

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic Nicotine Device Systems: Key Facts CDC Office of Smoking and Health

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Warns of Health Risks Posed by E-Cigarettes

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Recognizing Tobacco in its Many Forms

The North Carolina Tobacco Use Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now) is a free resource to help quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes. For more information about available resources to help you quit please contact Health Promotion Coordinator Anna Stormzand at (919) 845-5445 (