Health Hazards and Complications Associated with Electronic Cigarettes: A Review

Turk Thorac J. 2020 May;21(3):201-208. doi: 10.5152/TurkThoracJ.2019.180203.


Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are devices that vaporize and release a sweetened liquid containing nicotine as a substitute for burning tobacco. EC manufacturers have suggested that "vaping" is a safer alternative to conventional smoking because of the potential reduction of exposure to toxic substances. In 2019, National Youth Tobacco Survey reported that 10.5% and 27.5% of middle and high school students used ECs in the previous 30 days (0.6% and 1.5% in 2011, 3.3% and 11.7% in 2017, and 4.9% and 20.8 in 2018), respectively. Increased EC use among younger individuals is mainly because of the widespread perception that ECs are relatively less harmful than conventional cigarettes as they do not involve smoking tobacco and contain little or no nicotine. This review suggests that ECs may not be completely harmless. There are increasing number of case reports on various complications arising from using ECs, which are especially popular among young individuals and could negatively affect their health. Reported complications include lipoid pneumonia, acute eosinophilic pneumonia, hypersensitivity pneumonia, organizing pneumonia, diffuse alveolar hemorrhage, multiple reactive pulmonary nodules, subacute bronchiolitis, mouth and tongue injuries, dental injuries, complex facial fractures, thermal injuries, nickel contact allergy, C1 and C2 fractures, and fatal intoxication after ingesting liquids. Complications that develop directly from the substances in the devices and those resulting from device explosion and burning are being reported with increasing frequency. There is an urgent need for legislation and restriction regarding the sale of these devices considering their increasing frequency of use by younger individuals.

Publication types

  • Review