Learning About Vaping

Skip Navigation
Assorted vaping devices

What is vaping?

Vaping is the use of a device to inhale vapor that may contain nicotine, flavorings, or chemicals from marijuana. The devices may also be called electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes. They may look like pens or flash drives.

How do vapes work?

Vapes, or vaping devices, include a mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge that holds a liquid or dry material, and a heating element. When you breathe in through the mouthpiece, it turns on the battery and heating element. The heat turns the liquid or dry material into vapor.

What are the safety concerns?

These are some things to consider about vaping.

It can cause a deadly lung injury.
The "vapor" made by vaping contains harmful chemicals. There have been cases of lung disease and death related to vaping. Many of these may be from vaping products with THC (a chemical in marijuana) or other additives. The exact cause of lung damage is not known.
Vaping products often have nicotine.
Nicotine is addictive. It can be hard to stop using it. Nicotine can be harmful to developing brains, such as in fetuses, children, and young adults. Liquid nicotine can be poisonous if swallowed or spilled on skin. Keep it out of children's reach.
Vaping can expose those around you to secondhand aerosol.
There is a concern about possible health risks from secondhand aerosol exposure.
Vaping devices can catch fire or explode.
Vaping devices can explode. This can cause burns or injuries.

Should you use vaping to stop smoking?

Some people try to quit smoking by reducing the amount of nicotine they vape. They do this slowly over time. If you're thinking of using vaping to help you stop smoking, talk to your doctor first. Here are some other things to think about.

E-cigarettes may not be safe.
Some people have had serious lung problems from vaping. And the long-term effects aren't known.
It's not approved as a quit-smoking aid.
Counseling, medicines, and nicotine replacement products such as patches or gums are preferred.
Some people end up using both.
This is called dual use. Some people choose to vape when they can't smoke. But they may still smoke cigarettes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter C351 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Vaping".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.