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Icon Vape devices

What are e-cigarettes and vaping

E-cigarettes, also known as ‘vapes’, are battery operated devices that work by heating a liquid (or ‘juice’) until it becomes an aerosol that users inhale.

E-cigarette use has many health and safety risks. They contain chemicals that are known causes of cancer and lung damage.

People who use e-cigarette risk injuries and burns from exploding devices, signs of reduced lung function and harm to unborn babies.

What is in an e-cigarette?

  • E-cigarettes, commonly called vapes, can be disposable or refillable

  • They may be sold to children (illegally) or adults in tobacconists, convenience stores, informally at school or train stations and promoted for sale online via social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram

  • E-cigarettes contain an e-liquid (or juice, or vape juice) that is a chemical liquid

  • Recent reports have found more than 200 unique chemicals are used in e-liquids

  • An e-cigarette is a battery powered device that heats up an e-liquid heated to become an aerosol, or a fine spray of chemical particles inhaled deep into the lungs

  • The act of inhalation may cause the metals from inside the chamber of the e-cigarette to also be inhaled

  • Toxic metals can leach off the solid surface of the e-cigarette chamber directly into the liquid. But many of the toxic contaminants may also come from contamination of the chemical ingredients in e-liquids

Health and safety risks of e-cigarettes

Environmental challenge

  • Disposable e-cigarettes are almost impossible to discard responsibly. They contain single-use plastics, lithium batteries and metals

  • Many disposable e-cigarettes get discarded as litter – you may start to notice these devices around your local area

  • The battery acid can leech into the soil causing environmental harm

  • While we all know cigarette butt litter is a problem, e-cigarettes represent a new environmental challenge, especially when you consider the cheaper devices favoured by many young people are single use

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