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.
Healthy Delaware Vape Toolkit
The Healthy Delaware Vape Toolkit prepared by the Delaware Cancer Consortium offers resources to help communities combat vaping, especially among students. The toolkit provides an overview of the vaping epidemic in Delaware, with factsheets explaining the signs and effects of vaping and educational resources and curriculum for teachers, parents, and healthcare providers. The Toolkit also offers cessation tips and tricks to help teens quit and additional resources such as informative fact sheets, presentations, and websites dedicated to making people aware of the health risks and dangers of vaping.