What are Electronic Cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes, more commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually contains nicotine and other flavorings and additives. E-cigarettes are commonly known as e-cigs, mods, e-hookahs, vape pens, and tank systems. In Delaware, e-cigarettes are considered tobacco products and included in Delaware’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
E-Cigarette Use Among Youths
Soaring use of e-cigarettes among young people “is now a major public health concern,” according to the December 2016 report from the U.S. In the preface to the report, the Surgeon General wrote that e-cigarette use among high school students increased “an astounding 900 percent” from 2011 to 2015.
The report finds that e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youths, surpassing tobacco cigarettes. According to the Surgeon General, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, “which can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.” The Surgeon General urged stronger action to prevent young people from getting access to e-cigarettes.
In 2014, the Delaware General Assembly passed HB241, a bill to amend Title 11 Chapter 5 Subsection V of the Delaware Code regarding youth access to tobacco. The bill added a definition for tobacco substitutes to include e-cigarettes. The legislation makes it illegal to sell or distribute e-cigarettes to minors.
Risks of E-Cigarettes
A 2018 research study at Johns Hopkins found that the liquids and aerosols used in e-cigarettes contain several toxic metals such as lead and nickel at levels greater than the recommended maximum exposure levels. Furthermore, e-cigarettes, like traditional cigarettes, contain nicotine, which is harmful and addictive. The Surgeon General’s report details many of the negative harmful effects nicotine has on particularly at-risk groups including youth and pregnant women. Given the significant risks associated with e-cigarettes, it is important to consider them when crafting local smoke-free policies.