Dangers of E-Cigarettes, Vaping and JUULs
Despite enormous progress in reducing tobacco use, it remains the most common preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year, about 480,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses. Currently, more than 16 million Americans suffer from at least one disease caused by smoking.
Smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion for direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.
Nearly 95% of daily adult smokers begin smoking before age 21. Our prevention audiences are stratified by age, starting with youth and young adults. We use evidence-based strategies to counteract the overwhelming advertising aimed at children, young adults and adults.
E-Cigarettes and Youth
Below are resources for educators and others working with youth. (Updated: October 24, 2019)
CDC Office on Smoking and Health (CDC/OSH) E-Cigarettes Resources. The CDC e-cigarettes landing page has a variety of materials and resources, and is a one-stop shop for evidence-based messages about e-cigarettes:
- A webpage with general information about e-cigarettes.
- A webpage with information specific to e-cigarettes and young people, with links to infographics, fact sheets, an e-cigarettes and youth toolkit for partners, and a new OSH presentation to educate youth on e-cigarettes. (Please note: these materials don’t include information on the e-cigarettes lung-injury outbreak.)
- CDC/OSH and the Tobacco Control Network (TCN) collaborated to produce a pair of youth e-cigarette use microlearning videos. The videos, a long form and a short form, feature introductory remarks from TCN Chair Luci Longoria before a comprehensive overview on the prevalence and risks of youth e-cigarette use from Dr. Brian King, Deputy Director for Research Translation with OSH. Both videos present the same content in different levels of detail, and are appropriate to share with school administrators, nurses, teachers, ad other school-based stakeholders to ensure that all young people can learn in an environment from e-cigarette use.
CDC Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping Information and Resources. See this webpage for information specific to the outbreak of lung-injury associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, inclduing information for the general public, and a healthcare provider webpage with information relevant to school health staff, including a poster, available in English and Spanish, suitable for placement in school health clinics and school nurse offices.
School-Based E-Cigarettes Prevention Curriculum. While CDC/OSH doesn't endorse programs or curricula, in addition to the OSH presentation mentioned above, there are several noteworthy evidence-based youth e-cigarette prevention curricula and materials:
- FDA Center for Tobacco Products lesson plan and activity The Real Costs of Vaping: Understanding the Dangers of Teen E-Cigarette Use, developed in collaboration with Scholastic.
- The Stanford Medical School Tobacco Prevention Toolkit module on E-Cigs/Vapes and Pods
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Catch My Breath Youth E-Cigarette and JUUL Prevention Program
- The American Lung Association INDEPTH™: Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health offers an alternative to suspension or citation for infractions of school tobacco-free policies.
E-Cigarettes Cessation Resources for Youth
- The Truth Initiative launched a youth/young-adult focused E-cigarette Quit Program. Youth and young adults can access the e-cigarette quit program by texting "DITCHJUUL" to 88709. Parents and other adults looking to help young people quit should text "QUIT" to 202-899-7550.
- The National Cancer Institute’s SmokefreeTeen website includes information on How To Quit Vaping.
Youth-Facing E-Cigarette Prevention Ads
The FDA Center for Tobacco Products is running a national e-cigarettes prevention campaign to reach youth. The press release, FDA launches its first youth e-cigarette prevention TV ads, plans new educational resources as agency approaches one-year anniversary of public education campaign, describes the campaign as well as resources (e.g., posters, lessons plans) that FDA has distributed or plans to distribute to public and private middle and high schools nationwide. A variety of the FDA’s youth e-cigarette prevention materials, including print materials and social media content, are available for download on the Center for Tobacco Products Exchange Lab, including:
- “Chemicals in Vaping” posters. These five posters – focused on chromium, lead, nickel, and nicotine – help educate youth about the potential dangers of e-cigarette use.
- 11 short vaping videos, designed to educate youth that vapes can contain chemicals that could be harmful to the body, are availale for download to share on Instagram and Facebook.
The Truth Initiative is offering truth®-branded video content focused on flavored e-cigarettes. The content has been created specifically for youth-serving partners and stakeholders. The video "Sweet Clouds" highlights the fact that 81% of youth who have ever used e-cigarettes started with flavors.
Truth Initiative is also offereing truth content that spreads awareness of the facts and dangers associated with flavored and menthol tobacco products. "Burn Through" focuses on how Big Tobacco uses fruit flavors to disguise the 3,000 other dangerous chemical in their products. Also available are "Making Menthol Black", a hard-hitting expose of the tactics Big Tobacco used to target African Americans for decades, and "Power in Numbers", an exploration of the disturbing trends and numbers behind menthol use in America.
The videos are available in 30-, 15- and 10-second length versions plus scripted social media posts, gifs and still images. They are available free of charge (any/all media fees to be covered by partners) and can be run online (and some on TV) as well as on closed circuit tv systems on college campuses. All assets are available without any tagging/co-branding or any modifications. The use of the truth content will be vetted by and at the discretion of Truth Initiative. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CDC/Surgeon General Public Service Announcements for Adult Influencers. Adult-facing public service announcements (PSAs) from CDC/OSH and the U.S. Surgeon General are available for free through the CDC Media Campaign Resource Center. These PSAs are not designed for youth; they are appropriate for use with adult audiences, to raise their awareness about the health risks associated with e-cigarettes and youth:
- One Brain Radio PSA
- It's Not Like You Can Buy A New Brain (Vending Machine) Print ad
- It's a Fact Radio PSA
- Any Volunteers? Video PSA
- E-Cigarettes Risky for Youth digital and social media images
- E-Cigarettes, Nicotine, and Brain Development social media image
An item’s inclusion does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) nor does it imply endorsement of the item’s methods or findings. OSH, CDC and DHHS assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the items presented. The selection, omission, or content of items does not imply any endorsement or other position taken by OSH, CDC or DHHS.
References to publications, news sources, and non-CDC websites are provided solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsements by OSH, CDC or DHHS. OSH, CDC and DHHS assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the content of the individual organization found at non-federal links.
Kids are smart. You can’t tell them to just say no to tobacco and assume they won’t ask why. In fact, kids may ask questions about smoking you’re not prepared to answer.
“MD Anderson educates thousands of kids each year on the dangers of smoking and tobacco,” says Jeanette Lastrape, a senior health education specialist who focuses on youth and nicotine. “We’ve learned a lot about talking with kids.”
Lastrape says if you don’t want your kids to smoke, be proactive and be honest.
“Kids are bombarded with images of people using tobacco, so the earlier you start the conversation with them, the better,” she says. “If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so and work together to get the information.”
Below are some of the questions kids often ask Lastrape and her staff, and some suggested responses to help them understand the dangers of smoking and tobacco.
Is it bad if someone around you is smoking?
Yes. Secondhand smoke is full of harmful chemicals that can make you sick and can hurt parts of your body just like it would the person who smokes.
How do the tar and smoke get stuck in your lungs?
When a cigarette is burning, the chemicals start to melt together to form tar. Tar is very sticky, and it coats the lungs like syrup. That can make it harder to breathe.
Does smoking kill you?
It can. Tobacco use, especially cigarette smoking, is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes most lung cancer deaths. Smoking causes other illnesses, too.
Someone in my family smokes a lot. Should I tell them to stop?
Remember, people who smoke aren’t bad. They just made a bad decision, and it may be hard for them to quit. You can tell them that you care about them, and you don’t want them to hurt themselves by smoking. You can even tell them that quitting makes flowers, perfume and food smell better after only one day. It makes foods taste better, too.
How long does it take for your lungs to get better after you quit smoking?
A smoker starts to get healthier almost as soon as they stop smoking. A smoker’s lungs start to return to normal after about two weeks. Their risk of lung cancer continues to drop over several years.
Why do they make cigarettes?
For a long time, people didn’t think that smoking was harmful. Now that we know, we don’t allow smoking in most workplaces, to protect people against secondhand smoke. But smoking is still legal, and some people still choose to smoke, even though it’s dangerous to themselves and others. As long as people still make the choice to buy cigarettes, companies will make money, and will keep selling them. You can choose not to smoke because you know it’s dangerous.
Why do people smoke in the first place?
People start smoking for a lot of reasons. They may see their parents or other people they like and respect smoking. Their friends may tell them it’s OK to smoke. They may not know the dangers, or they choose to ignore them. But smoking is dangerous. The best thing is to never smoke, because smoking damages your body, and it’s hard to stop once you start.
Why do people keep smoking after they start?
There’s a part of your brain that tells you when something feels good, like when you’re eating good food, doing well in sports or feeling happy. Nicotine grabs on to that part of your brain and makes you think that you like it. It does this while harmful chemicals destroy other parts of your body.
Is it hard to quit smoking?
Nicotine tricks your brain into thinking you need to smoke and want to smoke. Smoking is a habit. Just like anything else you do all the time, It can be hard to change and quit the habit. When some people first quit smoking, they can get cranky. Some may have trouble sleeping for a while or eat more than usual. These things can be uncomfortable, but they don’t last. You can help by reminding the smoker that it’s better to quit than to keep smoking.
Are vaping and smoking an e-cigarette the same thing?
Yes. Vape pens are a type of e-cigarette. So are JUULs. All these products are electric cigarettes that have nicotine in them, just like real cigarettes. That means they are addictive. Even though they come in fun flavors, they are full of harmful chemicals.
Trying to take better control of your health? Steer clear of secondhand smoke.
Here’s the surprising reason: The amount of many cancer-causing chemicals is higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers, accroding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, nearly 3,400 nonsmokers die of lung cancer in the United States each year.
Even limited exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and trigger a heart attack. And if you’re a cancer patient, secondhand smoke can make your cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, less effective.
So, how can you tell someone not to light up around you? Here’s how our Facebook followers and other friends from around the web take charge of their health. Get inspired by their strategies for asking a smoker to snuff out.
“My neighbor was smoking and the smoke would trail into my studio. I
explained that I was getting headaches from the smoke, and that it was
really becoming a problem. She apologized and said she would not smoke
“People don't like being told what to do, so I don't tell them they
cannot smoke around me. If they light up, I simply say ‘I don't like
to be around cigarette smoke. I'll wait for you over here.’ Then I
move myself away. They are less likely to take offense and usually
will accommodate my decision by either not smoking or by moving away
“I found that just asking them to move doesn't work, as most of the
time they don't care. What does work is telling them I'm allergic to
it. I'm not really, but it is the best solution I've found so
“I might say something like ‘(Cough, cough) Excuse me, may I make a
request? I'm working on keeping myself healthy lately, and smoke is
especially bothersome. Would you be willing to smoke somewhere else or
put out your cigarette for the time being?’”
“I just ask them if they are in a hurry to meet their maker.”
“I always quickly walk past people who smoke, with my face tucked in
my shirt around my nose. Or I use a fanning gesture with my hands. No
words needed. They get the hint!”
“I rarely put myself in any ‘smoking situations,’ but when
necessary, this is how I handle it: ‘I feel very strongly about
smoking and need to let you know that I cannot be with you if you will
be smoking. I hope you can respect my feelings about this decision,
which is emotional for me, having watched my parents die from
“When I'm with a girl, I tell people, ‘Excuse me, but my wife is
pregnant. May I please ask you not to smoke around her?’ Absolutely no
one has ever turned me down, and every single one of them has been
extremely apologetic and kind!”
“When I’m standing in line with a smoker, I gently say (with a
smile), ‘I’m allergic to smoke. Would you be willing to not smoke for
now?’ Then give them a huge thank you. It has worked well for me for