What are e-cigarettes? Are they dangerous? What’s inside them?
Learn the answers to all of your questions about e-cigarettes by finding out more information below.

Check out the American Lung Association’s new Vape-Free Schools Initiative.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) include vapes, hookah pens, and JUULs. They are battery-powered devices that heat an e-liquid sometimes called “e-juice” that often contains nicotine. E-cigarettes are inhaled like regular cigarettes and produce an aerosol cloud of nicotine or other substances. They are not proven to be a safer alternative to cigarettes.[1]

These devices include, but are not limited to:

  • JUUL, Mark Ten Elite
  • E-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookah
  • Vapes, Mods, Pods
  • Suorin Air, Suorin Drop
  • And many more…


E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.  According to the CDC, use of e-cigarettes among high school students increased by a shocking 78 percent from 2017 to 2018, leading the FDA to declare an epidemic. Now more than 3 million high school students use e-cigarettes. [2]

In Pennsylvania, the CDC states that 40.8% of high school students statewide have used an e-cigarette at least once, and 24.1% of high school students currently use e-cigarettes. 

What’s inside e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are unregulated tobacco products and contain chemicals that can cause irreversible lung damage and alter teen brains. Click on each product to learn more about what may be in an e-cigarette: [1]

  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nicotine poses dangers to youth, for whom there is no safe level of nicotine exposure. Nicotine is addictive and harmful to the body. Virtually all e-cigarettes contain nicotine – even the ones labeled “nicotine free”. The
    United States Food and Drug Administration has found that even some brands that say they have no nicotine, actually do.
    For example, JUUL, the most commonly used e-cigarette, claims to have as much nicotine in one pod as an entire pack of cigarettes!
  • Diacetyl can cause a dangerous lung disease often referred to as “popcorn lung”
Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin
  • Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are likely to expose users to a high level of toxins. The more ingredients a user is inhaling, the greater the toxicity. [3]
  • A carcinogen or substance known to cause cancer, lung disease, and heart disease.
  • Acrolein causes irreversible lung damage. It can cause acute lung injury, COPD, and may cause asthma and lung cancer.

Are e-cigarettes dangerous?

In the short term, e-cigarette aerosol can irritate your lungs, throat and eyes. It can also make it more likely that you’ll catch colds or get the flu!  Nicotine is highly addictive and exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain.  Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to use traditional cigarettes. Not to mention, there have been thousands of cases of EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injuries) as documented by the CDC. Overall, e-cigarettes (otherwise known as “vapes”) are NOT harmless. 

Learn more about the dangers of e-cigarettes


[1] American Lung Association. The Impact of E-Cigarettes on the Lung. Available https://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/impact-of-e-cigarettes-on-lung.html

[2] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article, “Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product Among Middle and
High School Students — United States, 2011–2018.” November 15, 2018.

[3] Sassano MF, Davis ES, Keating JE, Zorn BT, Kochar TK, Wolfgang MC, et al. (2018) Evaluation of e-liquid toxicity using an
open-source high-throughput screening assay. PLoS Biol 16(3): e2003904. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2003904