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E-Cigarette Vapor infographics

This information has been reviewed and approved by Thomas Ylioja, MSW, PhD (June 2024).

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Summary of E-Cigarettes: Decoding What's Behind The Vapor

What is an E-Cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats an e-liquid into an aerosol or "vapor". The e-liquid contains a mixture of chemicals, artificial flavorings, and usually nicotine stored in a cartridge or pod. Some cartridges are refillable while others are replaced when empty. These devices take many shapes and colors. Some are made to look like cigarettes and cigars, or even a USB flash drive.


What is Vaping?

Vaping describes using a device to inhale the aerosolized e-liquid. The heated chemicals in the aerosol create a dense fog-like cloud that looks similar to tobacco smoke. When heated, the properties of the e-liquid chemicals change. The aerosol particles can damage to the lining of the lungs when inhaled. Nicotine inhaled through an e-cigarette is just as addictive as traditional cigarettes.


Different Names for the Same Product:

E-cigarettes are also known as e-hookahs, hookah pens, vape pens, vape pipes, or by brand names such as JUUL®.


Nicotine and the Adolescent Brain:

The adolescent brain is still developing until about age 25. Nicotine can hijack this process creating a strong dependence on nicotine. Decision-making, impulse control and planning ahead are among the last features of the brain to mature. Youth who start using nicotine can become hooked very easily.
The Limbic System aka Reward System (part of the brain affected by nicotine)

  • Regulates stimuli and emotional responses, including attention span
  • Stimulates dopamine production, producing a feeling of pleasure
  • Creates an addiction when the brain remembers those pleasurable feelings and seeks them out.


Vaping Dangers to Children and Adolescents

  • Nicotine is addictive.
  • Unregulated nicotine levels mixed with other chemicals
  • Packaging
  • Advertising
  • Targeted marketing
  • Flavoring
  • Alters brain development
  • Increases likelihood of smoking


Smoking Cessation Quitline

Are you or someone you know thinking about quitting tobacco? Call 1.800.QUIT.NOW for free support.


More Information on E-Cigarettes

You may use this infographic or our E-Cigarettes - Decoding What's Behind the Vapor (pdf) with permission by completing our content usage request form.