What You Should Know

There is so much information swirling around right now about e-cigarettes and vaping. It's hard to separate marketing fiction from fact. This page was created to help connect you with real information from a variety of credible sources so that you are equipped with accurate facts as you navigate the current peer pressure to vape. At the end of the page you will find reasons that many South Bay youth have shared about why they say, "I'll pass," when it comes to vaping, FAQs, and an opportunity to share your personal and fact-based reasons to avoid vaping and other tobacco products in the future. We hope you will find this page informative and that you will consider participating in the Pass On It project.

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What is an E-Cigarette or Vape Device?

The basic components of an E-cigarette (aka vape pen) are a cartridge containing a nicotine solution, a heating element that aerosolizes the solution, and a power source for the heating element, which is usually a rechargeable lithium battery. E-cigarette appearance can vary. Some devices, like JUUL, look more like a USB device than an E-cigarette.

E-cigarettes can be purchased in several concentrations of nicotine, many which are equal to or higher than the nicotine content in conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine through a liquid (called E-juice) consisting of glycerin and/or propylene glycol, as well as flavoring chemicals such as fruit, bubble gum, and other flavors that are very attractive to youth. (Source: Catch My Breath). Check out this short video for details and the history of these devices.


Three Important Facts About E-Cigarettes and Nicotine

  1. A recent survey by the Truth Initiative found that 63 percent of 15- to 24-year-old previous 30-day users surveyed did not know that vapor pods, which come in hundreds of kid-friendly flavors like gummy worms, cotton candy, and unicorn puke, contain highly addictive nicotine—a single pod containing 200 puffs can have just as much as a pack of Marlboros or Camels. (Source: Edutopia, 6/18)

  2. E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products—flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air. (Source: Center for Disease Control)

  3. Chances are you already know that nicotine is a very highly addictive stimulant. When inhaled either via traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, nicotine enters the bloodstream, crosses the blood brain barrier, and enters the brain within 10-20 seconds. Addiction to nicotine is one of the hardest to overcome. (Source: Safe Kids America and U.S. Surgeons Report).

Nicotine and Your Developing Brain

Photo credit: still Blowing Smoke. Click on the image to visit their website.

Photo credit: still Blowing Smoke. Click on the image to visit their website.

As a teen or young adult, you are uniquely at risk for the effects of nicotine because your brain is not fully developed until you turn 25, on average. Every time you make memories or learn a new skill, your brain takes note. Because addiction is a form of learning, adolescents can then become addicted more easily. Additionally, nicotine puts the teen brain at risk because It can mess up the areas affecting judgment, completing tasks and meeting goals. Plus, it could make teens more prone to overblown emotional reactions and immature behavior. This goes way beyond teen moodiness. Using nicotine at a young age is associated with developing mental problems like depression, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. (Source: US Surgeon General Report and Still Blowing Smoke). Click on the logo for more information from Still Blowing Smoke.


What About JUULS?

Photo Credit: The Truth Initiative (click on the image to visit the Truth Initiative website.

Photo Credit: The Truth Initiative (click on the image to visit the Truth Initiative website.

JUUL is a type of e-cigarette is stealth and extremely popular among young people. It has already amassed nearly half of the e-cigarette market share. These devices heat up a cartridge containing oils to create vapor, which quickly dissolves into the air. The device is small enough to fit in a closed fist and has a sleek, tech-inspired design that resembles a USB flash drive. A single JUUL cartridge is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes, or 200 cigarette puffs. As we have already covered, Nicotine is an addictive chemical, and evidence suggests that nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has long-term impacts on brain development. Many young people, however, do not realize that they are inhaling nicotine when they vape or use e-cigarettes. The majority of youth e-cigarette users think that the last time they used a product they vaped only flavoring, not nicotine, according to the University of Michigan’s 2016 Monitoring the Future study. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 99 percent of e-cigarettes sold in U.S. convenience stores, supermarkets and similar outlets in 2015 contained nicotine.(Source: The Truth Initiative

What is In E-Cigarette Aerosol?

The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain unhealthy and potentially harmful substances, including:

Source: Center for Disease Control

Source: Center for Disease Control

  • Nicotine (even though some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine Source: Center for Disease Control)

  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease

  • Volatile organic compounds

  • Cancer-causing chemicals (see below)

  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead


More Details About E-Cigarette Chemicals and Particles (Because It REALLY Isn't Just Juice)

The process of heating the nicotine solution produces aldehyde, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acrolein, which are known carcinogens. The glycerin/propylene glycol and 8,000+ flavoring chemicals in E-cigs have only been approved for ingestion (eating). It is not recommended by the manufacturers that these chemicals be inhaled, as they have not been widely tested for their potential sensitizing, toxic, or irritating characteristics. Learn more about the health risks of e-cigarette vapor and toxicology  from Science News for Students and Still Blowing Smoke


Don't Be a Victim of Tobacco Industry Advertising or Peer Pressure

Although regulations are now in place to ensure that the real health risks of Tobacco are conveyed, and its popularity has decreased as a result, there seems to be a new industry message that focuses on marketing “vape culture”. Vape marketing tactics are often characterized by the freedom to rebel against being told not to smoke. “It’s not smoke, it’s vapor,” is something you may hear a lot these days from people who claim vaping tobacco is not as bad for you, or even healthy for you,  relative to smoking it. As with any marketing, always be skeptical of information intending to drive product sales. 

Click on the Image to Enlarge (Source: Stanford)

Click on the image to enlarge (source National Youth Tobacco survey 2014)

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What About Vaping Marijuana?

Though this page focuses on vaping tobacco products, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that youth can vaporize marijuana – either the ground plant itself, waxes often referred to as dabs, or THC and CBD oils. According to Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of nearly 50,000 adolescents, 3 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders respectively had vaped marijuana in 2017.  Yes, marijuana is legal in California and is used recreationally and CBD oils do have medicinal benefits for some, but there are reasons why it's illegal for anyone under the age 21 to use marijuana recreationally. As we've mentioned, the brain of an adolescent or young adult is still growing, and therefore on a mission to increase efficiency and to develop critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences and more. Marijuana can get in the way of this development, causing brain circuits to wire in a less optimal way. Delaying substance use of any kind, including marijuana, gives you the best opportunity to have optimal brain functioning and to avoid negative unintended consequences of use (Source: Partnership for Drug Free Kids).

For Teens - The Pass On It Project


Many South Bay Teens Say, "I'll Pass" When It Comes to Vaping and Tobacco

It might seem at times like "EVERYONE is vaping!" But the truth is, teens throughout the South Bay have shared with the Pass On It campaign their reasons for choosing not to succumb to vape culture pressure. Check out some of their top ten reasons by clicking on the button below. For detailed blogs from South Bay teens sharing why they choose to say "I'll pass," when it comes to the things that hold them back, like vaping and drinking alcohol, visit the SBFC Teen Blog page


Still Need More Reasons to Say, "I'll Pass"? Check Out These FAQs

We have gathered facts and information from reputable sources about tobacco and vaping. We hope you might choose topics of interest and check-out some of the links. At the bottom of this page is a link to our "Tobacco? I'll Pass" blog and video contest currently underway. Please consider participating and sharing with us your top five reasons to try to pass on Tobacco before you've even started, now, or in the future. 

Q: How does tobacco deliver its effects?  A: It's complex. 


Q: Can smoking affect my looks?  A: Yes.

“Smoking chronically deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients. So some smokers appear pale, while others develop uneven coloring. These changes can begin at a young age” 

Q. Can tobacco affect my brain in the longterm?  A: Yes.


Q: What does it really do to your health?  A: It has numerous adverse and undeniable consequences. 



Q: What about cancer in particular?  A: It's undisputed that tobacco can increase the likelihood of the occurrence of many different types of cancer.




Q: Is it really addictive?  A: Yes.


Q: Vaping and e-cigarettes are different though, right?  A: Not in enough ways, and even those that claim to be tobacco free may have Nicotene and numerous dangerous chemicals.

"There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes," Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles






Q: What stories do smokers want to share?  A: Many. 


Q. Is there help if I'm ready to quit?  A: Absolutely. 

Download a free Quit Guide mobile app, make your own quite plan, find social support, receive free tets, and call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to access free support (available in Spanish and Asian languages) (CDC.gov Tobacco Campaign)


Please consider sharing your top 5 reasons to say, "I'll pass," when it comes to tobacco use. Whether this is an extra-credit assignment from your teacher, or just something you want to share, you can opt to enter our current blog and video contest and win a cash prize, a certificate, and recognition at your school. Just click on the button below to access to the submission form. Just a heads up, you could also opt to share your reasons or story anonymously. We hope to hear from you!