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E-cigarettes

Information and Resources for Parents

Most e-cigarettes, also known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive. Recently, e-cigarette use among youth was declared an epidemic by the U.S. Surgeon General. 

Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some e-cigarettes look like pens, USB sticks and other everyday items.

What's the bottom line?

E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products:

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
  • Nicotine is toxic to developing fetuses.
  • Nicotine is a health danger for pregnant women and their developing babies.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to use other tobacco products, including cigarettes.

E-cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless “water vapor.” It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

What can I do to prevent my child or teen from using e-cigarettes (or help them stop)?

Parents and caregivers can influence a child's or teen's decision about whether to use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.

  • Set a good example by being tobacco-free. If you use tobacco and need free help quitting, visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them.
  • Set up an appointment with your child’s or teen's health care provider so that they can talk to a medical professional about the health risks of e-cigarettes.
  • Speak with your child’s or teen's teacher and school administrator about enforcement of tobacco-free school grounds policies and tobacco prevention curriculum.
  • Encourage your child or teen to learn the facts and get tips for quitting tobacco products by visiting the Surgeon Generals e-cigarette website.

Need help starting the conversation? Use the CDC's tip sheet to talk to your child or teen about the potential health risks of e-cigarettes:

Learn about additional action you can take to prevent harm to youth and young adults from e-cigarettes.

Help Teens Stop Using E-cigarettes:

  • Catch my Breath – e-cigarette prevention program specific to grades 5-12. CATCH My Breath is a best-practices youth E-cigarette prevention program. CATCH My Breath utilizes a peer-led teaching approach and meets National and State Health Education Standards. 

  • INDEPTH™ - American Lung Association's convenient alternative to suspension or citation that helps schools and communities address the teen vaping problem in a more supportive way. INDEPTH™ is an interactive program that teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place. 
  • My Life MY Quit – Helps teens quit vaping through text messaging and phone counseling, sponsored by National Jewish Health.
  • SmokeFree Teen - Smokefree Teen is part of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Smokefree.gov Initiative. The goal of Smokefree Teen is to reduce the number of youth who use tobacco.

Information and Resources for Students, Parents and Educators

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is committed to the health of families across the state.  The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, is affecting students across Pennsylvania.  Below are valuable resources for educating parents, students and teachers about e-cigarettes and the risks of using these products:

Know the Risks: A Youth Guide to E-cigarettes

The presentation, Know the Risks: A Youth Guide to E-cigarettes is intended for adults who educate or serve youth, ages 11 – 18 (teachers, youth ministers, coaches, counselors, scout leaders, etc.).

  • This resource illustrates health risks, factors that lead to e-cigarette use, and what youth can do to avoid all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
  • The presenter may utilize the talking points and information for users document and does not require additional information, nor permission to deliver the presentation. The presentation and additional resources can be found on the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s webpage Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults

My Life My Qyut




My Life My Quit is a free and confidential service developed by National Jewish Health, the nation's number one respiratory hospital and Pennsylvania's PA Free Quitline vendor, for teens who want help quitting all forms of tobacco including vaping. Our tobacco treatment specialists have completed extensive training on adolescent cognitive and psychosocial development from a psychologist and professor at Stanford University who specializes in adolescent tobacco prevention. We encourage you to visit the website www.mylifemyquit.com. By enrolling, teen participants receive:

  • Five, one-on-one coaching sessions usually scheduled every 7-10 days. Coaching helps teens develop a quit plan, identify triggers, practice refusal skills and receive ongoing support for changing behaviors.
  • Self-help and educational materials designed for teens, with input from teens.
  • Additional support by phone, by text message or by online chat.
  • Additional guidance for parents and educators can be found at MyLifeMyQuit.com.  You can also download and print My Life, My Quit posters
INDEPTH
INDEPTH™ is the American Lung Association's convenient alternative to suspension or citation that helps schools and communities address the teen vaping problem in a more supportive way. INDEPTH™ is an interactive program that teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place.

It's Not Like You Can Buy a New Brain

The print ad It's Not Like You Can Buy a New Brain can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's page, under Multimedia About E-cigarettes.

New brain ad


For additional information, please contact the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control at 717-787-6600.