Get Healthy Carson City: E-cigarettes: How safe are they, really?

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Throughout the month of June, Carson City Health and Human Services is joining with tobacco prevention and control partners across the state to promote the Nevada Quitline and tobacco cessation. When most people think of the Quitline, they think of traditional cigarettes, but more and more, callers report using e-cigarettes as well. In fact, 33 percent of all Quitline users report e-cigarette use.

Even as use of cigarettes has dropped in recent years, tobacco users are still finding ways to get their nicotine fix. The use of e-cigarettes, e-hookah, and other electronic devices has skyrocketed. While many users believe e-cigarettes to be a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, the truth is e-cigarettes have been completely unregulated. Manufacturers don’t have to provide an ingredient list, and studies have shown in many cases the levels of nicotine advertised on the label were incorrect, with some products having as much as three times the level of nicotine as advertised.

The most worrisome aspect of the new wave of e-cigarette use is the influence these products have on our youth. The marketing tactics employed by the manufacturers, which are obviously directed toward young people, include bright packaging, candy flavorings, and novelty items to appeal to a new generation of nicotine addicts. The tobacco companies’ tactics are working: use of e-cigarettes tripled among middle and high school students between 2013 and 2014, and continues to climb. According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Nevada has a prevalence use of 26.1 percent and 27 percent in the Carson/Douglas area. Here in our community, more than 35 percent of Carson City and Douglas County middle schoolers report having tried electronic vaping products.

The Food and Drug Administration last month announced a plan to begin regulating e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, but full regulations will not be in place for several years. Health professionals are working hard to help determine the risks faced by users of e-cigarettes and similar products, but because there are so many different products on the market, it has been difficult to even know where to begin.

In the meantime, it’s important for users to understand these products haven’t been subject to any regulation, may contain many harmful chemicals not listed on the label, and may not be as safe an alternative to cigarettes as some would like to believe. These products haven’t been approved as a quit smoking product or device.

The bottom line is this: nicotine is a dangerous and addictive drug that can cause serious health consequences, including heart disease and stroke. Both cigarettes and vaping products contain nicotine, and using them puts your health at risk.

If you use tobacco or vaping products and want to quit, call 1-800-QUITNOW for resources and support. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at, or “like” us on Facebook at


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