What are E-Cigarettes / Vapes?
Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always) along with flavorings and other chemicals, or may contain hash oil or other THC-rich extracts (THC is the primary intoxicant in marijuana).
What does it look like?
They can resemble cigarettes, cigars, pipes or even everyday objects like pens or USB memory sticks. Other devices, such as those with fillable tanks, may look different. There are hundreds of different brands currently on the market.
e-cigs, e-hookahs, hookah pens, vapes, vape pens, JUULs, “jeweling,” mods (customizable, more powerful vaporizers)
How is it used?
Regardless of how they look, most of these devices operate in a similar manner and consist of the following components:
- a cartridge or reservoir which holds a liquid solution (e-liquid or e-juice) containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals, or THC-rich extracts like hash oil
- a heating element (atomizer)
- a power source (usually a battery)
- a mouthpiece that the person uses to inhale
In most devices, puffing activates the heating component, which vaporizes the liquid. The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor (called vaping).
What do young people hear about it?
E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco and nicotine. The ease of availability, variety of flavors, and the belief that they are safer than cigarettes have spurred their popularity.
What are the risks?
Young people who use marijuana or nicotine products in any form, including e-cigarettes or vaporizers, are uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects. Because these substances affect the development of the brain’s reward system, continued use can not only lead to addiction (the likelihood of addiction increases considerably for those who start young), it can make other drugs more pleasurable to a teen’s developing brain as well. Nicotine and marijuana also affect the developing brain circuits that control attention and learning.
E-cigarette use exposes the lungs to a variety of chemicals, including those added to the e-liquids along with others that are the product of the heating/vaporizing process. A study of some e-cigarette products found the vapors contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the device itself. More research is needed on the health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals.
Short-term effects of marijuana include disrupted learning and memory, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when a person combines marijuana with other drugs (including alcohol).
Marijuana may increase the risk of anxiety, depression and a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school. Marijuana can lead to addiction.
What are signs of use?
- Possession of e-cigarettes and/or related paraphernalia
- Disrupted learning and memory (marijuana)
- Distorted perception (marijuana)
- Loss of motor coordination (marijuana)
- Note that the distinctive smells of cigarette and marijuana smoke are much more subtle to non-existent with e-cigarettes and vaporizers, making it easier for teens to hide use