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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.