Vaping products are often marketed in kid-friendly flavors. The most popular product, Juul, comes in mint, mango and fruit, in addition to tobacco flavors. Some vaping devices look like a pen with an iPad stylus. Those marketing schemes contribute to many kids’ perceptions of vaping as relatively safe, experts say.
In the most recent surveys available, about 80 percent of youth said they didn’t see great risk of harm from regular use of e-cigarettes, according to the FDA. Other research found two-thirds of teens who vape said their e-cigarettes contained “just flavoring.”
The reality is different.
“Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine,” according to the CDC. Juul and other e-cigarettes can be especially dangerous for young people “because these products contain extremely high levels of nicotine, which can harm the developing adolescent brain,” Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said last month.
Also, the CDC says the vapor can contain everything from hazardous ultrafine particles to a flavoring called diacetyl—a chemical linked to a serious lung disease—plus other cancer-causing chemicals, and even heavy metals like lead and nickel. Studies find some flavorings break down into formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.
“Significant amounts of cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde are absorbed by the respiratory tract during a typical vaping session,” according to a study published Aug. 7 in the journal “Toxics.”
“It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain,” the CDC says. “For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.”