Are e-cigarettes less harmful than cigarettes?
There is no FDA oversight of the manufacturing of these products—which means there is no oversight regarding potentially harmful ingredients.
- E-cigarettes almost always contain harmful ingredients including nicotine.
- Acrolein, a known ingredient of many e-cigarettes, causes irreversible lung damage.
- Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain.
- The most popular e-cigarette among teens is JUUL
- All JUUL pods contain some nicotine—something many youths don't realize.
- According to the manufacturer, one JUUL pod may contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
- No e-cigarette has been found to be safe and effective by FDA in helping smokers quit.
Is there a difference between e-cigarettes and JUULing?
- No. JUULs may look different, but they're actually a type of e-cigarette.
- E-cigarettes are battery powered and deliver nicotine through a liquid which turns into an aerosol.
- The e-liquids come in fruit flavors that appeal to youth.
- JUUL is more discrete and looks like a USB drive. Other e-cigarettes may look like phones.
- Cartridge-based e-cigarettes like JUUL contain nicotine salts that do not produce vapor or visible emissions when the device is used and may make the product even more addictive.
- JUUL claims that some of its pods have roughly as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
How bad is the e-cigarette epidemic?
Most common reasons youth use e-cigarettes1
- 39% Use by "friend or family member"
- 31% Availability of "flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate"
- 17% Belief that "they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes"
Does the American Lung Association agree with the Food and Drug Administration that youth use of e-cigarettes has reached an epidemic?
- Yes, the American Lung Association agrees that e-cigarette use among youth has reached epidemic levels.
- American Lung Association has been asking the FDA to take action on e-cigarettes for a decade.
- E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco products among youth and have been for several years now.
- Many youth don't realize how they are harming their lungs and their brains by using e-cigarettes.
Several years ago, one study estimated there were about 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market at that time.
How is the American Lung Association helping your children?
- The American Lung Association urges the Food and Drug Administration to take meaningful action to crack down against products that target youth.
- The Lung Association and our partners filed a lawsuit against FDA for its delay of reviewing products currently for sale.
- The American Lung Association is working to implement proven effective policies that will reduce youth from e-cigarettes, including raising the minimum age of sale to 21 and increasing the price of products.
- Visit The Vape Talk to learn more about how to talk to your teen about vaping and download the conversation guide.
- Education programs available
- Not On Tobacco® (N-O-T) is the American Lung Association's voluntary quit smoking program for teens ages 14 – 19. Over the 10-week program, participants learn to identify their reasons for smoking, healthy alternatives to tobacco use and people who will support them in their efforts to quit. Call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or email NOT@Lung.org to learn more.
- Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health (INDEPTH) is an alternative for students who face suspension for violation of school tobacco, vaping, or nicotine use policies. Students participate in a series of interactive educational sessions administered by an adult facilitator in either a one-on-one or group format in a school or community-based setting. Visit Lung.org/INDEPTH, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or email INDEPTH@Lung.org to learn more.
Lung HelpLine and Tobacco Quitline is a telephone support line available in over 200 languages and is a free service allowing callers access to expert staff, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and certified tobacco cessation specialists.
1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or Lung.org/helpline.
Contact your local American Lung Association office for information on youth leadership groups and other youth tobacco initiatives. 1-800-LUNGUSA.
Wang TW, Gentzke A, Sharapova S, Cullen KA, Ambrose BK, Jamal A. Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:629–633. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6722a3
Page last updated: March 13, 2020