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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

Division of Tobacco Use Prevention & Control - Vaping - Electronic Smoking Device Information


E-cigarettes (e-cigs), vapes, vape or hookah pens, e-pipes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), electronic smoking devices and other vaping products are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale, or vape, aerosolized liquid (e-juice). E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine - the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products - flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.

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Below are videos on e-cigarettes and the emerging threat faced by rising youth use rates from Tobacco Control Network (TCN), Luci Longoria, and Dr. Brian King, FDA's Center for Tobacco Products Director.

Health Effects of Using E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects. Here is what we know now:

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, harmful to adolescent brain development, and a danger to pregnant women and their developing babies.
  • Besides nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • E-cigarettes can cause unintentional injuries. Defective batteries have caused fires and explosions resulting in serious injuries. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.

Cessation & Help Quitting

The best way to protect yourself from tobacco- and vaping-related illnesses is discontinue use or never to start. The Iowa Department of Public Health funds Quitline Iowa to help tobacco users, including those who use electronic smoking devices, to quit. Phone and digital counseling services are free to all individuals who live in Iowa. Simply call 800-Quit-Now (800-784-8669) to enroll.

We are also proud to announce a new cessation service from Quitline Iowa - My Life My Quit - a program designed especially for youth between 13 and 17 years of age to quit using tobacco and vape products. The program offers specially-trained coaches, real-time text or chat support, easy enrollment and youth-focused promotional and educational materials. Visit My Life My Quit to learn more.

Youth E-Cigarette Use

E-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. and Iowa youth, and their popularity has risen dramatically over the past several years. According to the Iowa Youth Survey (IYS), Iowa 11th-graders were far more likely to use e-cigarettes compared to traditional cigarettes.They also reported increased likelihood in trying e-cigarettes and decreased quit success when compared to cigarettes. For a summary of Iowa youth vaping/e-cigarette use statistics from the 2018 IYS, check out our infographic and factsheet.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) "The Real Cost" campaign seeks to prevent susceptible youth from trying tobacco or becoming regular users. The campaign works to counteract the "cost-free" mentality held by many adolescents regarding e-cigarette use, showing them how e-cigarettes, just like cigarettes, puts them at risk for addiction and other health consequences.

Information for Parents, Educators and Health Care Professionals


As a parent or caregiver, you have an important role in protecting children from e-cigarettes. Talk to your kids about the dangers of tobacco use and vaping. Be a good example by being tobacco-free. Set firm expectations that they do not use any type of commercial tobacco product, including e-cigarettes and vapes. Understand that e-cigarettes are not harmless. For more guidance, here's a tip sheet for talking to your children about e-cigarettes.


Tobacco-free spaces are a proven way to prevent youth tobacco use and protect students, faculty, and visitors from secondhand smoke. Tobacco-free schools is one way to address increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices among youth. Encourage local adoption of tobacco-free policies that include electronic nicotine delivery systems. Be aware of the various types of vaping products and engage students in discussions about the dangers of e-cigarette use. E-cigarettes and Youth: What Educators and Coaches Need to Know provides valuable insights and resources.

Health Care Professionals

Talk to your patients, including youth and young adults, about the dangers of tobacco use. Screen all patients, encourage them to quit, and refer patients to evidence-based services for help quitting. Click here for more information on how to refer patients.

Tobacco and Nicotine-Free School Policies

Currently, over 80% of schools in Iowa have a comprehensive tobacco and nicotine-free policy. To view or search for local policies, search Tobacco Use Prevention and Control’s Policy Database.

Check out our model tobacco- and nicotine-free school policy.

Iowa Law

To date, there is no state excise or special tax placed on e-cigarettes. Vape products are taxed at the sales tax rate rather than the tobacco or cigarette tax rate.

Vape products are not covered by the Smoke-free Air Act. Individual businesses can prohibit the use of vape devices indoors but this is not required by state law.

Iowa law places several restrictions on youth access to e-cigarettes, including but not limited to, prohibiting the sale, distribution, possession, purchase and use of vapor products to anyone under the age of 18. Find more information on Iowa’s e-cigarette-related laws and regulations from the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Additional Resources

Electronic Cigarettes - CDC Office on Smoking and Health (OSH)

The Impact of E-Cigarettes on the Lung (PDF) - American Lung Association

Fact Sheet: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults - A Report of the Surgeon General (PDF) - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes – The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

Tobacco Control Network

Interim Guidance for Health Care Providers Evaluating and Caring for Patients with Suspected E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use Associated Lung Injury - United States - MMWR - 10/11/19

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