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Electronic Cigarettes: electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items. Larger devices such as tank systems, or “mods,” do not look like other tobacco products. Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping.

Image by Fallon Michael


Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.

How do they work?

  • E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol.

  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes often contains nicotine and flavorings. This liquid is sometimes called “e-juice,” “e-liquid,” “vape juice,” or “vape liquid.”

  • Users inhale e-cigarette aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air.

  • E-cigarette devices can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.

Image by Vaporesso

What's in an E-Cig?

There is a common misconception that the smoke-like substance that comes out of vapes is mostly water vapor, however it is actually an aerosol. E-Cigarette aerosol is not harmless water vapor, although the act of using these products is often called "vaping". An aerosol is composed of particles in a gaseous medium, which is produced when vape juice is heated. Within this aerosol, studies have found nicotine, aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, silicon, tin, and zinc in some vape aerosols. Nicotine affects muscle movement, breathing, heart rate, learning, and memory of children and adults. It also causes feelings of pleasure and reward and is often associated with addiction. Nicotine affects the same areas of the brain as heroin and cocaine, which also release dopamine in the brain. Further, exposure to secondhand smoke by children leads to an increased risk of ear infections, severe asthma, and lung infections.

Marketing to Youth

E-cigarettes come in various flavors, including fruit, candy, mint, and menthol.  A study from 2013-2014 showed that most youth who use e-cigarettes first start with a flavored variety, and flavors are the primary reason youth report using e-cigarettes. On January 2, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized an enforcement policy that prohibits the sale of prefilled cartridge e-cigarettes in any flavor other than tobacco or menthol, unless authorized by FDA. FDA has since taken additional steps to prohibit certain companies from selling youth-appealing, flavored disposable e-cigarettes and flavored e-liquids without authorization. Widespread advertising for e-cigarettes, including via media for which advertising for conventional tobacco products is prohibited (e.g., TV), and the lower costs of some e-cigarettes relative to regular cigarettes has contributed to use among youth.

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Set a good example by being tobacco-free and ensure that your kid is not exposed to the secondhand emissions from any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.


If you use tobacco, it’s never too late to quit. For free help, visit or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them. It’s never too late.

This is Quitting is a free mobile program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping. The first-of-its-kind text messaging program incorporates messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. The messages show the real side of quitting, both the good and the bad, to help young people feel motivated, inspired and supported throughout their quitting process. They also send young people evidence-based tips and strategies to quit and stay quit. This is Quitting is tailored based on age (within 13 to 24 years old) and product usage to give teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting.​

The first-of-its-kind program to help young people quit vaping, This is Quitting has helped more than 200,000 youth and young adults on their journey to quit vaping. Learn more about how it works and the additional resources available for parents of young vapers and for adults who want to quit.

Teens and young adults can join for free by texting DITCHJUUL to 88709


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Resources for Parents

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Are you a parent of a young person who vapes?

Parents can text QUIT to (202) 899-7550 to sign up to receive text messages designed specifically for parents of vapers.

If you are an adult looking for support to quit vaping or stop using any tobacco product, our free digital quit smoking platform BecomeAnEX offers comprehensive web and mobile tools. Parents of vapers can also sign up for BecomeAnEX, where they can indicate that they are a parent of a young person who vapes, and access a supportive online community and a full interactive website of information about how nicotine addiction works and different approaches to quit. 


Register now at

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