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NIDA. (2015, May 4). Are E-Cigarettes Harmful?. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
May 4 2015

Have you been to a mall lately? Or maybe your local convenience store? You may have seen electronic cigarettes (known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs) on sale. There is definitely no shortage in supply: e-cigarettes have grown to be a billion-dollar industry with an estimated 460 brands.

And as it turns out, this supply has a sizeable demand—including more and more teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2 million high school students and 450,000 middle school students have used an e-cigarette in the last month. (That’s triple the number of teens using them a year ago.)

Doesn’t Vaping Beat Smoking?

The thinking goes, “If they’re not as bad as cigarettes, then maybe they’re OK.” But your health isn’t a “rock-paper-scissors” game. We still don’t know if e-cigarettes can hurt your lungs. And we do know that they are made to deliver the same highly addictive nicotine as regular cigarettes. This means by using them you can get hooked on nicotine. And, by the way, it’s a very hard drug to quit once you are addicted. Just ask the 90% of current smokers that started while they were teens.

But Don’t People Use e-Cigarettes To Quit Smoking?

You may have heard that e-cigarettes are a great way to kick a smoking habit. But we just don’t have enough research to know. And no e-cigarettes on the market are approved for this purpose.

Plus, some studies have found that as many as 75% of adults who use them still smoke regular cigarettes. And most teens who use e-cigarettes also smoke regular cigarettes too.

What’s The Harm in Nicotine Addiction (If You Don’t Smoke)?

Well, first (and yes, you’ve heard us say this before), the teen brain is still developing. This means that the teen brain is more vulnerable to addiction. Researchers worry that once you get hooked on nicotine through e-cigarettes you’ll start using regular cigarettes. Plus, research suggests that once addicted to nicotine, it may be easier to get addicted to other drugs, such as cocaine.

Still, in the years to come, researchers will learn a lot more about e-cigarettes. But in the meantime, take a page out of the history books and remember that it wasn’t so long ago that doctors didn’t think cigarette smoking was dangerous.

Want to know more? Check out E-Cigarettes: What You Need To Know.