Understanding the implications of the "vaping epidemic" among adolescents and young adults: A call for action

Subst Abus. 2019;40(1):7-10. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2019.1580241. Epub 2019 Mar 18.


In the past 5 years, the use of nicotine delivered through electronic cigarettes ("e-cigarettes") has sky-rocketed among adolescents and young adults. E-cigarettes, with their high nicotine content, appealing flavors, low costs, wide availability, and discreet designs threaten 5 decades of progress in the fight against tobacco use. Aside from the increased risk of subsequent use of traditional cigarettes, marijuana, opioids, and other illicit drugs, building evidence indicates that e-cigarette use also exposes youth to several acute and long-term health risks that greatly outweigh the as-yet unfounded potential benefits from the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking reduction or cessation tool in this age group. We discuss some of the latest research on e-cigarettes, highlighting risks and harms associated with their use in adolescents and young adults, and suggest opportunities for action, including the enforcement of age, sales and marketing limitations, and concerted research and public health efforts to help curb what has become a new nicotine epidemic among youth.

Keywords: Adolescent; e-cigarettes; nicotine; policy; vaping; young adult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / drug effects
  • Epidemics / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaping / adverse effects
  • Vaping / epidemiology*
  • Vaping / prevention & control*


  • Nicotine