While e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they do contain hundreds of chemicals: some are known to be harmful to inhale and many haven’t been tested at all. People who use e-cigarettes also inhale tiny particles that lodge deep in the lungs. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even if they don’t state it on the label. Nicotine is highly addictive.
E-cigarettes can be harmful to health and present very real dangers to children and young people. E-cigarettes can cause:
- Lung injury
- Burns and injuries
- Increased indoor air pollution
- Environmental waste and fires.1-5
And, if the e-cigarette or e-liquid contains nicotine, they can cause:
- Nicotine poisoning. Young children are most at risk and can become very sick or even die if they accidentally swallow e-liquid.6
- Addiction. People who use e-cigarettes may have difficulty stopping using them and may find themselves using them more often than they think they should. People who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoke than people who don’t use e-cigarettes.7
What’s inside an e-cigarette?
E-cigarettes commonly contain propylene glycol or glycerine, and flavourings. Harmful chemicals have been found in e-liquids and e-cigarette aerosols including ones known to cause cancer such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.2 Toxic metals such as aluminium, nickel and lead have been found in e-liquids and can be breathed in when vaping.8
Want more information?
For more general information about e-cigarettes, read e-cigarettes: general information.
For information on teen vaping, read e-cigarettes and teens: what you need to know.
Escape the con
The best way to escape the con – and break free from nicotine addiction - is to quit smoking and vaping.
1. Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, et al. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: systematic review of global evidence. Report for the Australian Department of Health. 2022. Canberra: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.
2. National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. 2018. Washington, DC.
3. SCHEER (The Scientific Committee on Health Environmental and Emerging Risks). Scientific Opinion on electronic cigarettes. 2021.
4. Chan BS, Kiss A, McIntosh N, et al. E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury in an adolescent. Med J Aust 2021; 215: 313-314.e311.
5. World Health Organization. Occupational Environmental Health Team. WHO Air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide: global update 2005: summary of risk assessment, https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/69477 (2006, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
6. National Health and Medical Research Council. CEO statement on electronic cigarettes: Plain english summary, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/all-topics/electronic-cigarettes/ceo-statement-summary (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).
7. Baenziger O, Ford L, Yazidjoglou A, et al. E-cigarette use and combustible tobacco cigarette smoking uptake among non-smokers, including relapse in former smokers: umbrella review, systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2021; 11: e045603.
8. National Health and Medical Research Council. Inhalation toxicity of non-nicotine e-cigarette constituents: risk assessments, scoping review and evidence map, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/file/18287/download?token=Z5D5_sam (2022, accessed 19 Sep 2022).