E-cigarettes are known by many different names: e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems and electronic nicotine delivery systems. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some resemble pens, USB sticks or other everyday items.
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products, flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.
Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. Most explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged.
Nicotine exposure can be toxic. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.
What is in the aerosol?
The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances such as:
- Volatile organic compounds
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Ultrafine particles
- Heavey metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.
- Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.