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The Dangers of E-cigarettes

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with e-cigarette product use.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles. They come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. E-cigarettes are known by many different names, including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods” and “vape pens.”

Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” or “JUULing.” JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine. A typical JUUL cartridge, or “pod,” contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. These products also use nicotine salts, that allow particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-base nicotine that has traditionally been used in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine as well as other chemicals that are known to damage health. This is of particular concern for young people, because it could make it easier for them to initiate the use of nicotine through these products and also could make it easier to progress to regular e-cigarette use and nicotine dependence.

No matter how it’s delivered, nicotine is harmful. CDC has released interim recommendations for health care providers, health departments and the public. Until more is known, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, CDC recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products.

If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes. If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and have any lung injury-related symptoms like those reported to the CDC, see a health care provider.

Get the facts. Know the risks. Protect yourself.

  • E-cigarettes are popular with young people. Their use has grown dramatically the last five years. The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens and adults.
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful substances. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
  • Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items.
  • Larger devices such as tank systems, or “mods,” do not look like other tobacco products.
  • E-cigarettes are known by many different names. They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).”
  • E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol.
  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes often contains nicotine and flavorings and is sometimes called “e-juice,” “e-liquid,” “vape juice,” or “vape liquid.”
  • Users inhale e-cigarette aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air.
  • E-cigarette devices can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.
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