Vaping equipment, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, usually containing nicotine, flavoring other chemicals. They can look like traditional tobacco cigarettes (cig-a-likes), cigars, pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory. Other equipment, such as those with refillable tanks, may look different. Nevertheless, their design and appearance, these devices generally operate similarly and are made of similar components. More than 460 other e-cigarette brands are currently on the market.

Some common nicknames for e-cigarettes are:

  • e-cigs
  • vapes
  • e-hookahs
  • hookah pens
  • vape pens
  • mods

How do vaping devices work?

  • Most e-cigarettes consist of four different elements, including:
    • a cartridge, reservoir, or pod, which holds fluid concentration containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings, and other materials
    • a heating element
    • a power source
    • a mouthpiece that someone uses to inhale
  • In many vaping, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the fluid in the cartridge. Someone then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor.

How does vaping affect the brain?

Is vaping dangerous? The nicotine in e-liquids is easily absorbed from the lungs into the blood when someone vapes an e-cigarette. Upon reaching the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the hormone adrenaline. It enables the central nervous system, which increases blood pressure, breathing, and heartbeat. As with most addictive materials, nicotine activates the brain’s reward circuits and increases a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine, reinforcing rewarding behaviors. Pleasure caused by nicotine’s interaction with the reward circuit motivates some people to use nicotine repeatedly, despite risks to their health and well-being.

What are the health effects of vaping?

Is vaping dangerous? Research so far suggests that vaping equipment might be less harmful than combustible cigarettes when people who smoke switch to them as a full replacement. But nicotine in any way is a highly addictive drug. Scientists suggest it can even prime the brain’s reward system, putting vapers at risk for addiction to other drugs.

Also, e-cigarette use exposes the lungs to various chemicals, including those added to liquids and other chemicals produced during the heating/vaporizing process. Research of some e-cigarette products found the vapor contains known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, as well as potentially harmful metal nanoparticles from the equipment itself. The study proves that the e-liquids of certain cig-a-like brands have many nickel and chromium levels, which may come from the vaporizing device’s nichrome heating coils. China-likes may also have low cadmium levels, a toxic metal also found in cigarette smoke that can cause health problems and disease. More study is needed on the health consequences of repeated exposure to these materials. There are also articles of lung illnesses and deaths related to consuming some vaping oils into the lungs, which cannot filter out toxic ingredients.

Can vaping help a person quit smoking?

Some people believe e-cigarettes help lower nicotine cravings in trying to quit smoking and doing drugs. However, e-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved aid, and there is no conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of vaping for long-term smoking cessation. It should be noted that seven FDA-approved quit aids are proven safe and useful when used as directed.