What is vaping?

Vaping devices, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals. They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes (cig-a-likes), cigars, or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. Other devices, such as those with refillable tanks, may look different. Regardless of their design and appearance, these devices generally operate in a similar manner and are made of similar components. More than 460 different e-cigarette brands are currently on the market.


  • e-cigs
  • e-hookas
  • hookah pens
  • vapes
  • vape pens
  • mods (customizable, more powerful vaporizers)

What do vape pens look like?

Often vape pens and products look like common household objects such as pens, USB drives and sometimes even phone cases. 

Brands & slang terms

Brands: Eleaf, GreekVape and Kanger. Slang- cloud chasing, ride the mist, juuling, dabbing, mods, vape pens, vaporizing, vape pod and box mod.

History of vaping

The idea of e-cigarettes was brought up by Joseph Robinson in 1927. However, it was in 1963 when Herbert Gilbert and his “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” made vaping popular. The Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, made the first modern e-cig in the mid-2000s due to his father dying from lung cancer.

How vape pens work

Most e-cigarettes consist of four different components:

In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor (called vaping).

Vaping, or vaporizing, is the process of heating up raw plant matter or extracts, without combustion. Instead of burning weed, tobacco or hash, vaping gently heats up these substances to limit the release of harmful chemicals and maximize the plant’s intended effects. Cannabis is typically vaporized at no less than 285°F but no greater than 450°F, and tobacco vapes at temps between 250°F and 300°F. Vapor has more in common with a cloud of steam than with a puff of smoke. And even though vaping reduces the effects of secondhand smoke, it doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing a drug’s effects.

The properties of vapor differ depending on what you actually vape. Different substances, like tobacco or hash, or its different forms of substances like oil or plant matter, change the vaping process. Sometimes it’s the substance in gaseous form, and sometimes vaping means inhaling liquid particles suspended in air as they cool after evaporation. Either way, the effect is the same. Drug molecules are inhaled and land on the lungs, which have an enormous surface area to catch them. The molecules then pass directly into the blood and bypass the digestive system. From there, the effects hit your brain in about five seconds, which is almost as quick as injecting the substance.

What’s the harm in a little vaping? 

Vaping can cause nicotine addiction, which can lead to constant nervousness and stress. It can cause cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Smoking can also lead to a long list of illnesses and chronic diseases. Smoking is the main cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an incurable lung disease. It results in shortness of breath, coughing, swollen airways, scar tissue and death.

Nicotine is the primary agent in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and it is highly addictive. It causes you to crave a smoke and suffer withdrawal symptoms if you ignore the craving. Nicotine is also a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.

Nicotine affects your brain development. It can make it harder to learn and concentrate. Some of the brain changes are permanent and can affect your mood and ability to control your impulses as an adult.

Vaping puts nicotine into the body. Nicotine is highly addictive and can:     

  • Slow brain development in teens and affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, and mood 
  • Increase the risk of other types of addiction later in life
  • Long-term (1-5 years) health concerns

Stats, Facts & Laws

  • 30 day use can cause lung inflammation even if you never smoked before.
  • Where are youth getting vapes? During key informant interviews youth have reported they are getting e-cigarette devices from either older friends, siblings and at times have reported they have stolen devices from local convenience stores.
  • What are the laws about youth vaping: Purchase/possession of vapor products by persons under age 21 prohibited.
  • Number of puffs per pod: 200 puffs per pod which is roughly the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarette. 
  • Compare amount of cigarettes to puffs in a pod: One pack of cigarettes is the same as using a Juul with one single Juul pod. 
  • What can parents do to prevent their kids from starting? Talk to your children about the harms of e-cigarettes. Studies show most children who begin to smoke are due to parents smoking, friends and peer pressure. Supporting school and community anti-smoking efforts can help prevent kids from starting. Set the example and be a role-model for your child. 

How to help your child quit?

Ask them to decide why they want to quit. Have them write it down or put it on their phone. They can look at the reason(s) when they feel the urge to vape. They should pick a day to stop vaping, put it on the calendar and tell supportive friends and family that they are quitting on that day. 

Get rid of all vaping supplies

Download tools (such as apps and texting programs) onto the phone that can help with cravings and give encouragement while trying to stop vaping.

Understand withdrawal

Nicotine addiction leads to very strong cravings for nicotine. It can also lead to:

  • headaches
  • feeling tired, cranky, angry, or depressed
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • hunger
  • restlessness

The signs of withdrawal are strongest in the first few days after stopping. They get better over the following days and weeks.


Individuals should be prepared for feelings, people, and places that trigger the urge to vape. If possible, avoid these places and people. If the desire to vape occurs, try these things instead:

  • Chew sugar-free gum or drink water
  • Text, call, or hang out with a friend who will support you
  • Listen to your favorite playlist
  • Go for a walk or jog
  • Try yoga or meditation
  • Take 10 deep breaths
  • Keep your hands busy with a hobby, like drawing or making jewelry
  • Go somewhere where smoking/vaping isn’t allowed

What is addiction?

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. Source

  • Addiction in kids: Addiction for kids is a major public health problem. 
  • Addiction in teens: Many teens believe that they can use tobacco without getting addicted but truth is most teens who use tobacco get hooked and will still be smoking as adults. 

Additional Resources