Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-operated devices that are designed to look like and be used in the same manner as conventional cigarettes. These devices also vary in design and can also go by different names such as atomizers, vaporizers, vape pens and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The devices all operate the same in that they use cartridges to deliver liquid nicotine and other additives to the user, and emit nicotine aerosol (or vapor, as the industry calls it) instead of smoke.
Usage rates among youth are rising fast. From 2011-2013 in Oregon, e-cigarette use increased by 100% in eighth graders and by 250% by eleventh graders.
Currently, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and are not required to comply with tobacco regulations. Anyone, regardless of age, can purchase e-cigarettes. There are no advertising restrictions for this product. The industry spent more than $100 million on e-cigarette advertising in 2014.
Are they safe?
Electronic cigarettes have not been proven safe. A 2009 FDA analysis of e-cigarettes from two leading brands found that samples contained carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze.
The FDA also found detectable levels of carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines in e-cigarette aerosol, posing a “passive vaping” risk to bystanders.
For more information regarding electronic nicotine delivery systems, visit the CDC's Key Facts page.
How to Help
Local businesses are encouraged to incorporate e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices into their tobacco-free and smokefree worksite policies and to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to youth.
For technical assistance or additional information, contact Gwyn Ashcom at 503-846-4544.