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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. Many popular e-cigarettes are shaped like USB flash drives. Using an e-cigarette is often called "vaping."
Other electronic devices that heat tobacco instead of liquid nicotine, such as IQOS, are not considered e-cigarettes. They are heated tobacco products.
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.
Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover treatment to help you quit smoking.
Parents can also text QUIT to 202-899-7550 to receive daily advice to help youth quit.
NYC laws include all e-cigarettes, regardless of nicotine content. NYC laws prohibit: