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Nicotine & Vaping

Tobacco and vaping devices contain nicotine, an ingredient that can lead to addiction, which is why so many people who smoke or vape find it difficult to quit. Both tobacco and vaping devices also contain other harmful chemicals.

Traditional tobacco products

  • Cigarettes 
  • Cigars 
  • Chewing tobacco 
  • Snuff 
  • Hookahs

Emerging tobacco products 

  • E-cigarettes 
  • Other vaping devices (e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes and tank systems)

The number of e-cigarette products continues to grow rapidly, and the amount of nicotine strength continues to increase.

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element and a place to hold a liquid. They heat the liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine, flavoring and other additives. Nicotine, which is found in both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, is addictive. In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful ingredients. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs, not only liquid nicotine.

E-cigarettes are very popular with young people. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. While these products may be beneficial to smokers who completely switch from combustible tobacco, these devices still pose health risks and nonsmokers should never use them.

If you suspect a nicotine poisoning or have questions, call 1-800-222-1222.

Health impact of tobacco and nicotine

  • Smoking leads to disease and disability and increase risk of: 

    • Several different cancers 
    • Heart disease and stroke 
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 
    • Pregnancy complications and health dangers to developing babies (reduced chance of getting pregnant, increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight and birth defects)
  • Smokeless tobacco is associated with many health problems and may increase the risk of:

    • Diseases of the mouth 
    • Cancer (mouth, esophagus and pancreas) 
    • Heart disease and stroke 
    • Early delivery and stillbirth when used during pregnancy
  • E-cigarettes are still fairly new, so scientists are still learning about their long-term effects. But nicotine use and vaping increase the risk of:

    • Harming adolescent and young adult brain development, affecting attention, learning, mood and impulse control
    • Pregnancy complications and health dangers to developing babies 
    • Serious lung illnesses and deaths

How to prevent nicotine usage

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of nicotine. For information on how to start the conversation, visit the Tobacco Free Kids site.
  • Restrict nicotine use around young people. Children like to watch and imitate adults. 
  • Make your home and vehicle nicotine-free. This will help protect children from exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke or secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes.
  • Be an example to youth by being nicotine-free. Even if you have used nicotine yourself, you can share your struggles with nicotine addiction.

Call the 24-Hour Poison Help Line for Additional Support:


Nicotine poisoning

Each year, poison centers answer thousands of calls about exposures to nicotine products like cigarettes, chewing tobacco, nicotine patches, e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and nicotine gum and lozenges. Nicotine poisoning can affect anyone; however, the greatest risk is in children because of their lower body weight and smaller size.

Nicotine can enter the body through:

  • Absorption through your skin and mouth
  • Inhaled through your lungs
  • Ingested

Symptoms of nicotine poisoning

    • Nausea and vomiting 
    • Drooling 
    • Abdominal pain 
    • Headache 
    • Dizziness 
    • Muscle twitching, tremors (shakiness) 
    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure 
    • Seizures
    • Low heart rate and blood pressure 
    • Shallow breathing/breathing difficulties 
    • Diarrhea 
    • Weakness 
    • Coma

How to prevent nicotine poisoning

  • The best way to prevent poisoning and other negative health effects is to avoid using nicotine products altogether.
  • Always store nicotine products up, away and out of sight of children. Because some of these products may look or smell like something tasty, kids may be tempted to touch or taste them.
  • Read and follow the directions on all nicotine replacement products.
  • Use caution when refilling or handling e-liquids. Wash your hands with soap and water and clean up any spills immediately.
  • If you are a new nicotine user, start slowly with a low nicotine concentration and wait awhile before vaping/smoking again to avoid getting sick from too much nicotine.
  • If you think someone has swallowed liquid nicotine or if someone is not feeling well after using nicotine, call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

If you suspect a nicotine poisoning or have questions, call 1-800-222-1222.

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