Electronic Cigarettes

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.

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to end youth e-cigarette use recommends the following steps. Do no harm. Provide information about the dangers of e-cigarettes to youth. Continue to regulate e-cigarettes at the federal level. Create programs and policies to prevent e-cigarette use among youth. Curb advertising and marketing that encourages youth and young adults to use e-cigarettes. Expand surveillance, research, and evaluation related to e-cigarettes.

E-Cigarette Use Among Youths

Graph of high school e-cigarette use. This graph indicates that e-cigarette use among high school sudents has increased from 1.5% to 16% between 2011 and 2015.

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.

Infographic of risks associated with youth e-cigarette use. Risks associated with using e-cigarettes include nicotine addiction, negative impacts on brain development, increased risk of onventional cigarette use, nicotine overdose, battery explosion, negative impacts on psycho-social health, and increased risk of illicit drug use..

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