E-cigs. E-hookahs. Mods. Pens. Vapes. Whatever the name, e-cigarettes are not safe. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. E-cigarette use among youth was recently declared an epidemic by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some e-cigarettes look like pens, USB sticks, or other everyday items.

Despite the “vaping” name, e-cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless “water vapor.” It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “No one knows what’s in these products. Even the FDA doesn’t know, because they haven’t required manufacturers to submit a list of ingredients. My message to people in Philadelphia is this: don’t use products that you don’t know are safe. Until we know more, don’t vape.”

“These products are addictive and killing young people,” added Mayor Jim Kenney. “The FDA should have regulated this industry a decade ago, and Philadelphia won’t sit idly by waiting for federal action.”

Behind The Haze is dedicated to revealing the truth about vapes, so you can see the real facts for yourself.


What Parents Can Do

Parents and caregivers can influence a child’s or teen’s decision about whether to use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.

  • Don’t use tobacco. Set a good example by being tobacco-free. If you use tobacco and need free help quitting, visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them.
  • Schedule an appointment with your child’s health care provider so that they can talk to a medical professional about the health risks of e-cigarettes.
  • Speak with your child’s teacher and school administrator about enforcement of tobacco-free school grounds policies and tobacco prevention curriculum.


  • Catch my Breath – e-cigarette prevention program specific to grades 5-12; best-practices program that utilizes a peer-led teaching approach and meets National and State Health Education Standards. 
  • INDEPTH™ – an interactive program that teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place. American Lung Association’s convenient alternative to suspension or citation that helps schools and communities address the teen vaping problem in a more supportive way. 
  • My Life MY Quit – Helps teens quit vaping through text messaging and phone counseling, sponsored by National Jewish Health.
  • SmokeFree Teen – Smokefree Teen is part of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Smokefree.gov Initiative. The goal of Smokefree Teen is to reduce the number of youth who use tobacco.