Why Is Vaping Harmful?

  • author name Sue Lackmann, MEd
A man is vaping

Sue Lackmann, MEd, a Lancaster General Health Wellness educator and Tobacco Free Coalition of Lancaster County member, answers your questions about the dangers of vaping.

Why is Vaping Harmful? 

Most e-liquids that people use in Electronic Nicotine Devices (ENDS), or e-cigarettes, contain some amount of nicotine—the ingredient that causes addiction. None of these products are regulated, so you don’t know what you are vaping. Even if a product says it contains no nicotine, no one is checking to make sure. 

The vapor people inhale and exhale is not just water. It is an aerosol (similar to hair spray) and contains ultra-fine particles that can irritate your lungs. 

More than 60 different chemicals and ingredients have been identified in most e-liquids. Many of these products are found in foods, vitamins, make-up and skin care products and are approved by the FDA to use for those specific purposes.  

When used for their intended purposes, these chemical do not cause harm. When they are heated and inhaled, they may interfere with lung function.

As of November 5, 2019, there were 2,051 vaping cases associated with lung injury and 39 deaths in 24 states. According to the CDC, most but not all, of these injuries and deaths involve individuals who vaped THC—the psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high.”

How Do Vaping Devices Work?

There are more than 400 brands of ENDS, more than 500 different devices, and thousands of different liquids (flavors) available. E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.

Are Vaping Devices Less Harmful Than Cigarettes?

Neither are a good choice and both contain nicotine. There are no safe vaping devices.

E-cigarette manufacturer of JUUL says “our product is intended to help adult smokers stop using cigarettes and switch completely to e-cigarettes.” The reality is, only 37% of adult smokers who have tried JUUL used it to quit. 

The CDC recommends you do not use e-cigarettes or vaping products that contain THC. The CDC also recommends people NOT:

  • Buy any type of e-cigarette or vaping product (particularly those containing THC) off the street 
  • Modify or add any substances to e-cigarette or vaping products not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments

Are ENDS legal?

They are legal to purchase and use if you are 21 or older.

What Resources Can Help People Quit Smoking or Vaping?

  • Schedule a free personal 30-minute appointment with an LG Health tobacco treatment counselor. Call 717-544-3278 to discuss options to meet your quitting needs.
  • Call the PA Quitline for free phone counseling 1-800-784-8669
  • Text the word QUIT (to 47848) on your mobile phone
  • If you are under 18, text the word QUIT (to 706-2222) on your mobile phone; messaging is targeted specifically to teens
author name

Sue Lackmann, MEd

Sue Lackmann, MEd. is a health educator with Lancaster General Health Community Health. Her responsibilities include school, workplace, and community prevention initiatives related to: child passenger safety, farm safety, healthy weight management, and tobacco. Lackmann is coordinator of Safe Kids Lancaster County, and actively involved in Lighten Up Lancaster County and the Tobacco Free Coalition of Lancaster County.

Call: 717-544-3283

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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