E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid, called e-liquid, into an aerosol that the user can inhale. Although e-liquids do not contain tobacco, they contain chemicals, usually including flavorings, and often contain nicotine, which is addictive.
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and can also be called e-cigs, e-hookahs, vapes, vape pens, personal diffusers or diffuser sticks. One popular e-cigarette, JUUL, is shaped like a USB flash drive.
Using an e-cigarette is often called "vaping" or "JUUL-ing".
The popularity of e-cigarettes among youth is alarming. In 2019, more than one in six (15.2%) New York City high school students reported using e-cigarettes. Nearly five times as many high school students use e-cigarettes than smoke cigarettes.
Further, in 2018, one in 15 (6.7%) middle school students reported using e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use was higher among older students, with one in 11 (9%) seventh grade students reporting use, compared to one in 38 (2.6%) in sixth grade. As with high school students, e-cigarette use was much more common than cigarette use.
Flavors, including mint and menthol, are one of the top reasons young people use e-cigarettes. Candy and fruit-flavored e-liquids can make e-cigarettes appealing and seem harmless. As of July 2020, the sale of flavored e-cigarettes is prohibited in NYC.
E-cigarettes can be especially harmful for young people because nicotine affects them in different ways than adults. Youth who use e-cigarettes are also more likely to try cigarettes.
E-liquid ingredients vary, and the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown. Even without nicotine, we know that the aerosol from heated e-liquids can contain other harmful chemicals, such as:
People can be poisoned if they swallow e-liquid or absorb it through their skin or eyes.
Defective e-cigarette batteries cause fires and explosions that can lead to serious injuries and even death.
The CDC, FDA and state and local health departments are investigating a multi-state outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury. While the investigation is ongoing, we urge New Yorkers to share information with their communities.
The evidence for e-cigarettes as a tool to help adults quit smoking is limited. To date, no e-cigarettes have been approved by the FDA as smoking-cessation devices.
FDA approved tobacco treatment medications can help people trying to quit smoking. These include over-the-counter and prescription options, which are known to be effective. These medications can make you nearly two times as likely to successfully quit smoking.
NYC laws include all e-cigarettes, regardless of nicotine content. NYC laws prohibit: