What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery-powered devices that heat an ‘e-liquid’ (or ‘e-juice’) to very high temperatures to produce an aerosol. They are designed to deliver nicotine and/or other chemicals via an aerosol vapour directly to your lungs. E-cigarettes do not generally contain tobacco and products vary in terms of ingredients and designs.

All e-cigarettes have three basic components: a battery, an atomiser (heating element) and a fluid cartridge. The e-liquid used in e-cigarettes usually contains propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine and added flavourings.

A vape that has been taken apart to expose  wires, battery and tape.
Different types of vapes on a table.

What is vaping?

A person is said to be ‘vaping’ when they inhale the aerosol produced by an e-cigarette into their lungs. The aerosol is filled with hundreds of different chemicals, many known to be harmful to human health.

Similar to smoking, inhaling nicotine is what makes these devices very addictive. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even if it is not stated on the packet. The amount of nicotine you consume in 1 vape can be equal to or greater than the nicotine levels in an entire packet of cigarettes. 

Health effects of e-cigarette use

The short and long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are currently being researched. As e-cigarettes are relatively new it means that there is not enough data available to determine the long-term health effects. 

According to a recent review by the Australian National University, the known harms of e-cigarettes include: 

  • addiction; 
  • intentional and unintentional poisoning; 
  • acute nicotine toxicity, including seizures; burns and injuries; 
  • lung injury; 
  • indoor air pollution; 
  • environmental waste and fires; 
  • dual use with cigarette smoking; and 
  • increased smoking uptake in non-smokers.

Less direct evidence indicates negative effects of e-cigarettes on cardiovascular health, including blood pressure and heart rate, lung function and adolescent brain development and function.

How to quit vaping?

Talk to the Quitline and get support from a trained advisor who can help you plan and develop strategies to quit vaping and stay quit.

For more information on e-cigarettes, including laws in Western Australia, visit Healthy WA.

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