Summary Overview

Vaping devices, which include vape pens, mechanical modified nicotine delivery systems or MODs, and electronic hookahs, typically deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to the user through an inhaled aerosol. Commonly perceived as a healthier or safer option than traditional cigarettes, there are unique health risks associated with vaping devices and research is currently being performed to look at the potential long-term effects of vaping device use.


Vaping is defined as the inhalation vapor through the mouth from a battery-operated electronic device that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or solid. There are a wide variety of vaping devices that range in size and shape.

E-cigarette or Cig-a-like

This first generation of vaping devices often has a similar appearance to that of a cigarette. They come in both disposable and rechargeable forms. They can emit a light that resembles the burning of tobacco when the user puffs from it. They also tend to be the least expensive of the vaping devices.

Vape or Vaporizer Pens

The second generation of vaping devices resembles the shape of a pen and comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Like e-cigarettes and cig-a-likes, there are disposable and rechargeable devices and most are refillable.

Mechanical Modified Nicotine Delivery Systems (MODs)

MODs are larger in shape and size. MODs consist of many customizable parts that allow users to individualize the device. MODs are rechargeable or have replaceable batteries and typically hold more liquid for vaping. MODs are the most expensive type of device with some setups costing hundreds of dollars.

Vaping Liquid

The liquid inside of vaping devices goes by the terms e-liquid, e-juice, nic- juice, smoke juice, smoke oil, or vape juice. This liquid typically contains nicotine as well as many other chemicals that may be dangerous when atomized. They also come in a variety of flavors that can appeal to adults and youth alike.

Health Risks

While vaping devices are commonly used to deliver nicotine, a fast acting, highly-addictive, and harmful drug, they are potentially loaded with other dangerous chemicals. Vapor has been found to contain heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, toxic chemicals and cancer causing agents.(1) The vapor can also contain ingredients, such as propylene glycol and flavorings, which are recognized as safe for use as food additives, but have not been deemed safe for inhalation.(2)

In 2014, 26 percent of high school sophomores in Spokane County reported using a vaping device in the past 30 days. This is over twice the rate of sophomores who reported smoking a cigarette in the past 30 days in the same year.(4) Preventing youth from becoming addicted to nicotine is critical as youth are vulnerable to nicotine addiction and emerging research indicates that the use of vaping devices by youth may ultimately lead them to smoke cigarettes.(5)  Nicotine use during adolescence, a critical window for brain development, causes addiction, is more likely to lead to sustained tobacco use, and might have lasting adverse consequences for brain development.(6)

When vaping devices are used, bystanders are exposed to the toxic chemicals and carcinogens through secondhand vapor. The long-term health impacts of inhaling this vapor are unknown. Vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children and people with cardiovascular conditions, may be at elevated risk.

Vaping devices can be used to consume any liquid, including liquid THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Users can also create their own e-juice. Since the aerosol produced from a vaping device is usually odorless and evaporates quickly, it is impossible to know what product is being used in a vaping device, thus exposing bystanders to unknown substances and particulates.

The liquid solution used in vaping devices is unregulated. There are no labeling requirements concerning any nicotine content and there are no packaging requirements to protect children from opening containers of the product. The liquid solution is often sold in bright and colorful packaging and is available in many flavors that appeal to children. All liquid nicotine products should be stored out of reach of children. If you suspect a person has been exposed to liquid nicotine, call the Washington Poison Center at 1.800.222.1222 or seek medical help immediately..

The e-juice used in vaping devices typically contains nicotine, which is poisonous if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Ingestion of only a few drops of nicotine can cause poisoning.  Ingesting as little as 1 tablespoon of liquid nicotine could be enough to kill a small child.

There is no safe level of nicotine for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Similar to using traditional cigarettes, the use of nicotine-delivering vaping devices while pregnant or breastfeeding can cause health problems for developing babies and infants. Babies exposed to nicotine can have problems with feeding, and may have delayed mental and physical development. Nicotine can harm brain development, or cause impaired learning, attention deficit, and memory loss in infants and children.(3)

Vaping and Cessation

The same methods that are used to quit smoking can be used to quit vaping. To learn more click here.

Vaping devices are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as smoking cessation devices and may not help people quit using tobacco. The best way to quit smoking is to use a combination of nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, or medication) and counseling. For free assistance, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or find help to quit tobacco here.

Vaping Related Topics


Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general, as well as the health of those around them. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.


Marijuana can be an addictive substance, particularly for youth. Marijuana use during childhood or adolescence is dangerous because the human brain does not fully develop until around age 26, and drugs like marijuana can have negative effects for young, developing brains.

The younger youth are when they try marijuana, the more likely it is that they will become addicted. To learn more about risks to youth from marijuana use visit Weed to Know.

Although marijuana use by adults (21+) has been made legal in Washington State that does not mean it is without health risks. The safety of marijuana has not been established. Just like tobacco and alcohol, it has been associated with health and social problems.



Washington Poison Center

Statewide provider of immediate, free, and expert treatment advice and assistance on the telephone in case of exposure to poisonous, hazardous, or toxic substances. All calls are confidential. Call (800) 222-1222.

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Weed to Know

If you choose to use marijuana, it's important to know the laws, potential risks and how you can help prevent underage marijuana use.

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