Back to Top Skip to main content

Smoking in disguise: Electronic smoking devices labeled ‘healthy’ can be misleading

Vaping and using e-cigarettes have become very popular in recent years, but users should be aware of known risks and potential dangers. Electronic nicotine delivery systems use noncombustible tobacco products and typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. (DoD file photo) Vaping and using e-cigarettes have become very popular in recent years, but users should be aware of known risks and potential dangers. Electronic nicotine delivery systems use noncombustible tobacco products and typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. (DoD file photo)

Recommended Content:

Public Health

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Cigarette smoking has been around since the ninth century. Today, many people are using battery-powered devices designed to mimic the habit while delivering fewer toxins. Experts, however, warn that regarding these devices as “natural” or “healthy” can be misleading.

“Many people think e-cigarettes are safe and without any sort of harm, because they’re not a conventional cigarette,” said Army Lt. Col. Sally DelVecchio, chief of Pulmonary Critical Care Service at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Northern Virginia. “While there may be fewer toxins in e-cigarettes, people should still be aware that there can be harmful toxins in the product liquid.”

Electronic nicotine delivery systems use noncombustible tobacco products and typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. They’re known as e-cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, and e-pipes. These devices can mimic traditional cigarettes and pipes, or they can look like everyday objects, such as pens or USB memory sticks.

In 2016, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General released the first comprehensive report by a federal agency on e-cigarette use among older children and young adults. It said more than a quarter of students grades 6-12, and more than a third of young adults, have tried e-cigarettes, which is now the most common form of tobacco used by middle school and high school students in the United States.

In e-cigarettes, nicotine is delivered through a liquid called e-juice, which turns into vapor when using the devices. DelVecchio said the liquid can come in various flavors, which is attractive for the young population.

Regina Watson, health promotion program manager for the Air Force Medical Support Agency, warned that there are misconceptions about what’s in these products and the harm they can do. Some people may believe that e-cigarettes don’t contain nicotine, because they don’t have combustible tobacco, which is found in traditional cigarettes. But e-cigarettes are a nicotine product, Watson said.

“In some cases, it might have more [nicotine] than regular cigarettes, but it’s difficult to know, because it’s largely unregulated,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette aerosol can include nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, ultrafine particles, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. It can also include flavorings like diacetyl, which is a chemical linked to serious lung disease.

E-cigarettes also increase the possibility of negatively affecting brain development and respiratory health, the OSG said. Nicotine affects the development of the brain’s reward system, which includes brain circuits that affect attention and learning. Other risks include mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control.

DelVecchio warned that while more research needs to be done on the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and vaping, bronchiolitis obliterans has been linked to these products. This disease occurs when e-cigarette use triggers an immune system response, causing inflammation in the lungs. It’s unknown whether the inflammation is long-term or if any additional damage disappears over time, DelVecchio said.

“I believe more and more places are starting to acknowledge that vaping and e-cigarettes are potentially just as harmful as secondhand smoke,” she said.

More than 460 different e-cigarette brands are available, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Watson warned that many vaping products are not FDA-approved, since the contents, including chemicals and substances in flavoring, aren’t fully known, making the safety level difficult to determine.

According to NIDA, about 66 percent of teenagers who use e-cigarettes believe their products only contain flavoring, while nearly 14 percent report not knowing what’s in them, and only roughly 13 percent believe they contain nicotine. Although some e-cigarette brands are FDA-approved, other vaping products and e-cigarettes are not regulated. Long-term data on the safety of all of these products is not available, since they are still relatively new, DelVecchio said.

Research shows e-cigarette use among youth can lead to traditional tobacco use, which is known to cause disease and premature death, said Watson.

Additional information on e-cigarettes can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. Resources for quitting smoking can be found through the Department of Defense’s UCanQuit2 campaign.

“Even though you may not feel like you’re smoking with an e-cigarette, you can be putting more harm in your body than you realize,” said Watson. “It’s important to stay informed and do your research.”

You also may be interested in...

Rabies

Infographic
11/20/2018
Rabies

Although Germany is rabies-free for terrestrial land mammals, rabies exposure remains a concern for U.S. military personnel assigned there because of personal and military travel and deployments to rabies endemic countries. Deployments have become much more variable both in location and duration. Deployments have increasingly focused on enhancing ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Cold Weather Injuries

Infographic
11/20/2018
Cold Weather Injuries

This update summarizes the frequencies, incidence rates, and correlates of risk of cold injuries among members of both active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces during the past 5 years.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Malaria

Infographic
11/20/2018
Malaria

This report describes a cluster of 11 soldiers with vivax malaria among U.S. military personnel who trained at Dagmar North training area, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ), in the Republic of Korea (ROK) in 2015.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

DoD Flu VE

Infographic
10/26/2018
DoD Flu VE

Each season, several entities within the(DoD) perform surveillance for influenza among beneficiaries and utilize these data to perform VE analyses to estimate how well the seasonal vaccine protects against medically-attended influenza.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health | Influenza Summary and Reports

Psychiatric Medical Evaluations

Infographic
10/26/2018
Psychiatric Medical Evaluations

This study evaluated incidence of pre-deployment family problem diagnoses and psychiatric medical evacuations among a population of active component service members without a history of previous mental health diagnoses, who deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility for the first time between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Infographic
10/26/2018
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

The purpose of this study was to update previous MSMR analyses of the incidence of acute Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) among U.S. active component women using a 21-year surveillance period from 1996 through 2016. A secondary objective was to report on the proportion of service women with previously diagnosed PID who were subsequently diagnosed ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Summer may be gone, but West Nile Virus remains a threat

Article
10/24/2018
Mosquito activity is still at its peak during early fall but taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can reduce risk of West Nile Virus. (U.S. Army photo)

Taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can be the best way to reduce risk of West Nile Virus infection and other mosquito-borne illnesses

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Gynecologic Disorders

Infographic
10/3/2018
Gynecologic disorders are conditions that affect the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, and vulva. As part of Women’s Health Month, this report describes the incidence and burden of four commonly occur-ring gynecologic disorders (menorrhagia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, and endometriosis) among active component service women from 2012 through 2016. This report also documents the number and percentage of women with co-occurring incident diagnoses during the surveillance period.

Gynecologic disorders are conditions that affect the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, and vulva. As part of Women’s Health Month, this report describes the incidence and burden of four commonly occur-ring gynecologic disorders (menorrhagia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, and ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

CVD

Infographic
10/3/2018
CVD

As of part of WOMEN’S HEALTH MONTH, we focus on the findings related to female service members. If the risk factors are recognized, these service members can take steps to modify their lifestyles or obtain appropriate medical intervention, and reduce the likelihood of significant CVD while serving in the Armed Forces, and also after leaving service.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

HPV

Infographic
10/3/2018
HPV

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S.; HPV is the second most frequently diagnosed STI in U.S. military service members. Currently, HPV vaccine is not mandatory for U.S. military service members, but the Defense Health Agency and each individual service have policies encouraging and ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Paying attention, knowing the signs: How teenagers can help save a life

Article
9/27/2018
Air Force Maj. William Logan, a chaplain with the 35th Fighter Wing, holds a picture of his son, Zac, who committed suicide. Suicide among teenagers remains a concern. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, young adults

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Children's Health | Suicide Prevention

Say ‘Shoo’ to the flu with TRICARE

Article
9/26/2018
Amanda LaFountain, a licensed practical nurse, administers the flu shot to a Soldier. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marshall Metzger)

Flu viruses are serious, contagious viruses that can lead to hospitalization or even death

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Public Health

HPV

Infographic
9/24/2018
HPV

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S., and is the second most frequently diagnosed STI in U.S. military service members. Currently, HPV is not a mandatory vaccine for U.S. military service. However, it is encouraged and offered to service members.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

HIV

Infographic
9/24/2018
HIV

As part of the U.S. military’s total-force HIV screening program, civilian applicants for military service are screened for antibodies to HIV during pre-accession medical examinations. Infection with HIV is medically disqualifying for entry into U.S. military service. Since 1986, all members of the active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Drowning

Infographic
9/24/2018
Drowning

Service members are at risk for unintentional drownings during training, occupational activities, and off-duty recreation. In the U.S., unintentional drowning ranks as the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death and accounted for an average of 3,558 deaths (non-boating related) annually between 2007 and 2016. The current analysis extends ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 20

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.