Vaping & Vapor Products

Anatomy of an Electronic Cigarette Diagram

Vapor products, also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens, represent a market that has grown exponentially since they were first introduced in the mid-2000s. They are typically equipped with a battery, a heating device and a cartridge containing nicotine, flavorings, and solvents. The nicotine solution is heated to produce an aerosol that is inhaled or vaped. There are more than 400 different brands of e-cigarettes and more than 7,000 flavoring chemicals.

Hot Topic: Lung Illness Associated with using E-Cigarette Products

Starting in summer 2019, many youth and young adults have been seen in emergency rooms across the country for respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain as well as stomach issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Almost all of these patients reported using a vapor device in the previous week. These devices may contain nicotine or THC, the exact substance used has not been clearly identified. The CDC is currently investigating this outbreak to determine the exact cause. Visit the CDC to learn where the investigation currently stands: CDC Investigation Update

Cases have been identified in the state of Washington, including multiple cases in Snohomish County. New cases were reported as recently as January 2020. If you have used a vapor device in the past week and are experiencing respiratory symptoms, stomach symptoms, or a fever, please visit your primary care doctor or a walk-in clinic.

Youth Use of Vapor Products

Since their introduction, teens and young adults have been drawn to the new high tech way to smoke. Youth use is increasing nationally and in Snohomish County.

While many people view vapor products as safe or harmless, this is not true. Nicotine is particularly harmful and addictive for developing brains.

Youth Use Resources

Local, State & Federal Policy

In April 2019, the Governor signed a new law that raises the legal age for purchasing tobacco or vapor products from 18 to 21. The law takes effect in January 2020. It will be illegal (a gross misdemeanor) to sell or give tobacco or vapor products to anyone under the age of 21.

In the fall of 2015 (with amendments in the spring of 2016), the Board of Health approved a Vapor Devices ordinance meant to prohibit vaping in public places. In the spring of 2016, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 6328 which allows the state to license and regulate all vapor products. In the summer of 2016, the FDA distributed a “deeming rule” allowing them to regulate the contents of e-juice as well as vapor product distribution under the tobacco control act. For more information, see:

Important Issues

Nicotine Poisoning

E-juice (the liquid inserted into the e-cigarette and heated) contains a highly concentrated form of liquid nicotine. This liquid nicotine is toxic and can lead to rashes if it comes in contact with the skin. If the e-juice is ingested, a person can become very ill with severe vomiting. If a child drinks e-juice this can lead to death. There have been several documented cases of death in small children who accidentally drank e-juice. The new WA law requires all e-juice to be in child-proof containers, but parents should still be cautious and keep their e-juice and other vapor paraphernalia out of reach of young children. For more information, view the Washington State Poison Center Annual report on e-cigarettes.

Exploding Batteries

Between 2014 and 2015, there have been approximately 130 battery explosions nationwide. No one understands the exact cause or reasoning behind these explosions. For some unknown reason, some batteries explode, unfortunately leading to serious burns on the skin of the people using them. For more information, view the Seattle Times article about exploding e-cigarette batteries.

Quit Resources for Teens

Due to the incredibly high nicotine content in many of the newer vapor devices, more and more teens are finding themselves addicted with nowhere to turn.  Quitting resources are more limited for individuals under the age of 18 but they are still available.

  • An individual under the age of 18 can not buy nicotine replacement therapy (such as the patches or gum).  However, a physician may prescribe it to them.
  • The Washington State Department of Health now sponsors a teen only quitline.  Teens can call in and speak to a counselor, regardless of their insurance, for 5 sessions.  Call 1-800-784-8669
  • The Washington State Department of Health also sponsors a phone quit app called 2morrowquit.  This app is available for both teens and adults.  Click the link to register: 2morrowQuit
  • The Truth Initiative sponsors a free text message teen-focused quit program. Click the link to register: Truth Initiative Teen Quit Program