Vaping and E-Cigarettes

What is Vaping?

Vaping is inhaling aerosol from an e-cigarette or another vaping device that heats a liquid containing nicotine, marijuana (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or other substances. The shapes and sizes of these devices vary and include colorful vape pens, modified tank systems, and new pod-based devices that can look like USB flash drives, cell phones, credit card holders, and highlighters. 

E-cigarettes seem attractive, especially to young people, because of their reusability and flavor options but they are not a healthy or “clean” smoke. Just like cigarettes and hookahs, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical.

How Vaping Impacts Your Body

E-cigarettes have only been on the market since 2003 and scientists are still learning about long-term health consequences. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical, and can harm adolescent brain development. In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the devices and exhale can contain harmful substances such as:

  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

When an e-cigarette is used, the nicotine in e-liquids is absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream. The nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. As with most addictive substances, nicotine activates the brain’s reward circuits and also increases levels of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine, which reinforces rewarding behaviors.

Public Health

In fall 2019, the California Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control issued an advisory urging everyone to refrain from vaping due to a continued increase in vaping-associated pulmonary injury. Symptoms of the condition include a cough, difficulty breathing, fever, and vomiting or, sometimes diarrhea.

At this time, it is unknown which compound or ingredient used in an e-cigarette or vaping products has emerged as the cause of the outbreak. The best way to prevent lung injury is to quit the use of e-cigarettes.

Ready to Quit?

The first step to becoming smoke and/or vape-free is to create a plan so that you can stay focused, motivated and confident. 

Steps to building a quit plan:

  • Set a date: Choose a day in the next week or two so that you have enough time to prepare but not too far into the future. Set yourself up for success by picking a day that will not be very stressful – for example, don’t pick a day when you have a big exam!
  • Tell a friend or family member: Quitting is easier when you have a supportive environment, Tell a trusted friend or family member so that you have a sense of accountability and let them know how they can be supportive to you.
  • Calculate your savings: A recent survey administered by LendEDU showed the average JUUL user spent about $180 per month. That is a significant amount for any individual to spend per month, but especially a college student. It can be helpful and motivating to sit down and calculate your weekly or monthly spending and consider how you can save up to purchase something fun as a reward or save it for next semester’s book costs. 
  • Identify reasons for quitting: Maybe you want to quit vaping to improve your health, save money, or take back control. Whatever your reasoning, take time to think about it and why it will benefit you.
  • Think about what makes you want to vape: When and where are you most likely to vape? Is it tied to emotions, social occasions or routine? Identifying when you are most likely to vape will help you prepare for those situations.
  • Fight your cravings: With any addiction, we know there will be cravings. It is up to you to choose how you will work through them by identifying healthier options such as a deep breathing exercise, calling or texting with a supportive friend, or chewing on gum. 
  • Use your resources: USD students can get support with smoking and vaping cessation by making an appointment with the Student Health Center. There are also several online resources such as, where you can create a personalized quit plan step-by-step. The California Smokers’ Helpline is another great resource for individuals to call or text for individualized counseling and support. More information can be found at