There's Nothing Harmless About Teen Tobacco Use

Looks like candy. Tastes like candy. Hooks like tobacco.

Electronic Cigarettes (Vapes)
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Get the facts about electronic cigarettes, their health effects, and the risks of using e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)”. When people use them, this is often called “vaping”. Some e-cigarettes look like other tobacco products like lit cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, while others can look like everyday household items such as USB computer memory sticks, writing pens, asthma inhalers, mint tins, and clothing. more.

  • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
  • Health risks from e-cigarette use include learning, memory, and mental health problems, lung illnesses, heart problems, injuries resulting from battery explosions, and accidental childhood nicotine poisonings. 
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into a person’s mid-20s.(1)
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. MORE
  • E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved as safe and effective devices to reduce nicotine dependence and quit smoking lit cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes have the potential to be developed to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for lit cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products (e.g. cigars, cigarillos, etc.).

Talk to youth, women who are pregnant, and smokers about nicotine and e-cigarette health risks. More

What‘s the bottom line?

  • E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
  • While e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people and harm others, scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.
  • If you’ve never smoked or used other tobacco products or e-cigarettes, don’t start.
  • Additional research can help understand long-term health effects. More

Teen Smoking, Vaping, and Other Tobacco Use in Rhode Island

Even though Rhode Island has a low smoking rate for high school teens compared to the national average (4.2% in 2019 compared to the national average for the same year (5.8%), smoking combustible or lit cigarettes and overall tobacco product use and nicotine addiction among young people remains a concern. Almost one in three (30.1%) high school teens report using e-cigarettes and almost 50% of teens have tried vaping products. About one in every three teens (33.3%) said they used one or more different types of tobacco products. According to the CDC, teens who use e-cigarettes of any kind are four times more likely to smoke lit cigarettes, the deadliest and most cancer-causing of all tobacco products. More

Flavors hook youth to highly addictive nicotine and tobacco

For kids, teens, and young adults, candy-like, sweet, and fruity flavors, as well as mint and menthol flavors, can mask the harsh tastes and effects of tobacco product use. This makes it easier for youth to stomach the otherwise harsh tastes of tobacco while the chemical nicotine quickly gets them hooked on nicotine in tobacco products. This includes combustible or lit tobacco products, vapes,  chew or cheeked tobacco, and new emerging products categorized as “heat-not-burn” products.   More

What you should do

  • Enforce the federal tobacco law that restricts sales to adults age 21 and over. MORE
  • Enforce school policies. In Rhode Island, it's illegal for anyone to use or possess any tobacco products including e-cigarettes on K-12 school properties, indoor and outdoors. MORE
  • Prevent poisonings. Nicotine in liquid form is highly poisonous. Keep all e-cigarette liquids locked away from children and pets. MORE
  • Learn how to spot e-cigarettes and vaping devices. MORE
  • Parents and educators:
    • Talk to kids and teens frequently and openly about nicotine and e-cigarette health risks. MORE
    • Ask healthcare providers at home and school to regularly screen all children and teens about tobacco use.
    • Connect teens who vape or smoke to free quit support at My Life My Quit. Visit www.mylifemyquit.com to learn more. To get started right away, simply call or text START MY QUIT to 1-855-891-9989.
    • Adults 18+ may call the free Rhode Island Nicotine Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free quit coaching by phone, online tools, and local resources.
  • Include e-cigarettes and hookah in 100% tobacco-free policies wherever public smoking is banned through public or private policies. Examples include behavioral health facilities, college campuses, recreation areas, parks, beaches, HUD housing, multi-unit housing, workplaces, and congregate settings.
  • Work with us to protect vulnerable populations that continue to be targeted and exploited by the tobacco industry and to promote healthy tobacco-free living. MORE