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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Vaping and E-Cigarettes

What is Vaping?

● E-cigarettes use heat to vaporize liquids which are then inhaled
● These liquids may contain nicotine, THC, or may be free of drugs
● E-cigarettes are often billed as an alternative to smoking or a way to quit smoking
● E-cigarettes and Vapes come in many shapes and sizes, and in single use or multi use form
● In 2020, nearly 20% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days (CDC, 2021)
● This technology is still relatively new and the office of the surgeon general released their first report on e-cigarettes and vaping in 2016 (U.S. Department, 2016)

What's in E-Cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes and vape pens are variable. They can contain many components along with the water that creates the vapor you see. Most E-cigs or vapes contain at least nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. They have been found to contain toxic chemicals, metals, carcinogens, propylene glycol (in the antifreeze family), diacetyl (causes scarring and inflammation of lungs called Popcorn Lung), marijuana, and bath salts (Riemer & Holmes, 2020).
  • Many E-cigarettes are sold and bought online from other countries which means they are unregulated products. This means it is uncertain what substances are in those E-cigs and to what concentration.
  • Some vapes have known high concentrations such as in the brand JUUL. In one pod, which is about the size of your thumb fingernail, it contains the same amount of nicotine as in 1 pack of cigarettes (Riemer & Holmes, 2020).
  • When the contents of an E-cig are vaporized and then inhaled, those ultra-fine particles travel deep into the lungs and can cause lung damage (Riemer & Holmes, 2020). 

What Are The Health Risks of Vaping?

Nicotine can harm an adolescent's developing brain (the brain continues developing until age 25), and therefore can damage the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).

● Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, strong connections -or synapses- are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build connections faster than adult brains. However, nicotine can alter the way these synapses are formed (CDC, 2021).
● Adolescents who use nicotine are at an increased risk for addiction in the future to cigarettes and other drugs.
● Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused some fires and explosions, a few which have resulted in serious injuries (CDC, 2021).
● Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing E-cigarette liquid through their skin and eyes.


The ingredients in e-cigarettes, such as aerosol, can be harmful to the lungs in the long-term. The aerosol can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:
○ Nicotine
○ Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
○ Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
○ Volatile organic compounds
○ Cancer-causing chemicals
○ Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).

Aren’t E-cigarettes safer than cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes expose users to fewer harmful chemicals than burned cigarettes (CDC, 2021)
  • The use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe for young people (CDC, 2021)
  • There are many unknowns about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapor and how they affect physical health over the long term (CDC, 2021)
  • E-Cigarettes are just as addictive as cigarettes. (Blaha, n.d.)
    • Extra-strength cartridges for e-cigarettes have a higher concentration of nicotine than a regular cigarette.
    • An increase in the e-cigarette’s voltage results in a higher hit of the substance.
  • A recent study found that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to kick the nicotine habit ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes. (Blaha, n.d.)

At what age is vaping legal?
● In December 2019, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was updated and the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products increased from 18 to 21 years.
What is popcorn lung?
● E-cigarette vapor can cause popcorn lung from inhaling the chemical, diacetyl. Popcorn lung can be described as the narrowing of the airways resulting in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
What do vapes look like?
● Some vaping devices resemble everyday objects such as USB devices, pens, smart watches, and chargers.
How addictive is nicotine?
● Very addictive and is the third most addictive substance. The top two are listed as heroin and cocaine.
Juul pods vs. cigarettes?
● One Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

Resources to Stop Vaping

  • Tobacco Free Coalition of Weld County
    • FREE counselling sessions with Tobacco Treatment Specialists through Weld County
  • Colorado QuitLine
    • FREE for eligible residents
    • Support coaches providing evidence based information
    • Nicotine patches, gum or lozenges free for eligible members 18 years of age and older
  • My Life, My Quit
    • FREE confidential, self-guided program to help teens under 18 quit tobacco and vaping
    • Access to coaches that provide tips and support through online chat, live text and phone
  • Truth Initiative: This Is Quitting
    • FREE program customized to help people ages 13-24 quit vaping
    • Daily supportive text messages providing tips and information to quit

Blaha, M. J. (n.d.). 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 23). Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html.
Center for Tobacco Products. (2020, Jan. 15). Legislation Raises Minimum Age of Sale of Tobacco Products to 21. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA. www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/ctp-newsroom/newly-signed-legislation-raises-federal-minimum-age-sale-tobacco-products-21.
Editorial Staff . (2016, July 6). Popcorn Lung: A Dangerous Risk of Flavored E-Cigarettes. Each Breath: A Blog by the American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/blog/popcorn-lung-risk-ecigs.
Riemer, L. & Holmes, R. (2020). New trends in substance abuse.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults. A Report of the Surgeon General.
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_SGR_Full_Report_508.pdf