E-cigarettes and Health
E-cigarettes include “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.
- E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
- More research is needed to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.
- If you’ve never smoked or used other tobacco products or e-cigarettes, don’t start.
CDC’s About E-cigarettes
E-cigarettes and Young Adults
E-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used by young adults. Young adults who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products including cigarettes. E-cigarette products can also be used with marijuana and other illicit drugs.
Nicotine is the chemical found in tobacco and many e-cigarettes that “hooks” users. Nicotine is damages the young adult brain, which continues to develop until about age 25. Nicotine use at a young age can:
- Interfere with memory and concentration
- Create stronger cravings for nicotine
- Train the brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs
- Interfere with impulse control
In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol (“vapor”) can contain other harmful ingredients such as heavy metals, benzene (found in car exhaust), and ultrafine particles that can contribute to the development of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.
CDC’s Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults
New E-Cigarette Laws
Because of the potential dangers to youth who use e-cigarettes, several laws became effective in Maryland on October 1, 2018. These new laws bring electronic nicotine delivery systems in line with current laws covering other tobacco products.
(HB 1094) – Distribution of Electronic Cigarettes to Minors – Prohibition and Penalties
The distribution or sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems to a minor is considered a criminal violation. Penalties are $300 for the first offense, $1000 for the second offense (if within 2 years), and $3000 for each subsequent offense within the same time period.
Minors are also prohibited from using, possessing, obtaining, or attempting to obtain electronic nicotine delivery systems. Violation is considered a civil offense.
Health care providers widely recommend that smokers consider quitting. FDA-approved products such as nicotine replacement therapy and medications can help smokers quit.
Some smokers prefer to switch to e-cigarettes. The American Cancer Society states that “switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products” but strongly discourages using both e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco products.
The Carroll County Health Department, with funding from the Cigarette Restitution Fund, offers help to individuals who want to quit smoking. Two walk-in clinics are available each month; counseling is available by appointment; and participants may be eligible to receive vouchers for nicotine replacement products or Chantix (with a prescription from a doctor). For more information, contact 410-876-4443 or 410-876-4429 or visit our Smoking Cessation webpage.
For more information on e-cigarettes:
A Tip Sheet for Parents from the Surgeon General
American Cancer Society Position Statement on Electronic Cigarettes
E-Cigarette Use among Youth and Young Adults, A Report of the Surgeon General, Executive Summary