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E-Cigarettes, Vapes, and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)

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What are E-Cigarettes, Vapes, and Other Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) Products?

Vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), e-cigars, and e-pipes are some of the many tobacco product terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). 

These products use an “e-liquid” that usually contains nicotine derived from tobacco, as well as flavorings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other ingredients. The liquid is heated to create an aerosol that is inhaled.

ENDS may be manufactured to look like conventional combusted cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble pens or USB flash drives. Larger devices, such as tank systems or mods, bear little or no resemblance to cigarettes. These products may have reusable parts, or they may be disposable and only used once before they are thrown away.

Graphic images of disposable, cartridge and tank system e-cigarettes, and common chargers for e-cigarettes.

Are You Looking for General Health and Safety Information Related to E-Cigarettes, Vapes, or Other ENDS?

The longer ENDS and other e-cigarettes are on the market, the more information we know about their impacts on health. This includes data on youth use of these products, which has led to development of several educational programs designed to prevent adolescents and teens from using these products. Through tobacco product problem reports and tobacco product violation reports, the FDA also knows much more about many safety and health hazards they may pose.

Are E-Cigarettes a Lower-Risk Alternative to Cigarettes?

While e-cigarettes can generally be a lower-risk alternative for adults who smoke cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes is not risk-free. These products deliver harmful chemicals and contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Moreover, given the harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes, further high-quality research on both short- and long-term health outcomes is needed.

Given that there is no safe tobacco product, youth and adults who do not use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarettes.

For adults who smoke, switching completely from cigarettes to e-cigarettes may reduce exposure to many harmful chemicals present in cigarettes. However, it is important that they switch completely from cigarettes to e-cigarettes to get the full health benefit. Long periods of dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes can result in harms to health similar to, or in addition to, the harms from exclusive use of cigarettes.

To date, FDA has authorized 34 tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-cigarette products and devices. These products have undergone rigorous scientific review, including toxicologic assessments, and have been found by FDA to meet the statutory public health standard.

Learn more at FDA’s “Facts About E-Cigarettes” webpage.

Youth Use and Prevention 

The FDA monitors the national usage rates for all tobacco products, including an annual youth survey, and has seen a drastic increase in youth use of e-cigarette products in recent years. Due to what has been called an ‘epidemic’ of youth use of these products, FDA has prioritized prevention efforts. The agency has taken a multitude of actions to keep ENDS out of the hands of youth, from policy making to enforcement to education. 

Learn about public education efforts and resources that have been created to reach youth who are at higher risk of or more vulnerable to cigarette use and nicotine addiction. FDA created a toolkit, Resources for Professionals About Vaping & E-Cigarettes, for adults and professionals who work with youth. This FREE resource provides fast facts about youth vaping and e-cigarettes.

The Real Cost

The Real Cost Logo

“The Real Cost” E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign 

FDA’s award-winning public education campaign, “The Real Cost,” continues to prevent youth from tobacco initiation and use. In 2017, the campaign began prioritizing e-cigarette prevention messaging to combat increasing youth vaping rates. “The Real Cost” campaign also educates teens on the health consequences of smoking cigarettes.

Resources in the FDA Tobacco Education Resource Library

The FDA Tobacco Education Resource Library, from FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, provides tobacco education resources. This site offers digital and print content for state and local health officials, nonprofit organizations, and schools to support public outreach efforts and includes the Vaping Prevention and Education Resource Center, an online resource center with science-based, standards-mapped materials teachers can use to help students understand the dangers associated with vaping and nicotine addiction. The resource center features numerous age-appropriate, cross-curricular resources for teachers to promote learning and begin having open conversations with youth about vaping.

In addition to content designed for teachers, there are also materials for parents and teens. All content on the resource center is free, easy to navigate, and optimized for each audience. These resources are also available in Spanish.

Visit the Vaping Resource Center

E-Cigarette Problems and Potential Violations

There are no safe tobacco products, including ENDS. In addition to exposing people to risks of tobacco-related disease and death, FDA has received reports from the public about safety problems associated with vaping products including:

These problems can seriously hurt the person using the ENDS product and others around them. There may be added dangers, for example if a vape battery catches fire near an oxygen tank, a propane tank (such as used in backyard grills), or a gas pump, or if a person has a vape-related seizure while driving. FDA has a webpage with tips to help avoid vape fires or explosions.

If you have experienced undesired health or quality problems with any tobacco product, including ENDS, you can report it to FDA. Knowing more about adverse experiences can help FDA identify concerning trends and causes or contributors for particular incidents or health or quality problems beyond those normally associated with tobacco product use. You can read some tobacco-related adverse experience reports on the Tobacco Product Problem Reports page.

If you think ENDS or other tobacco products are being sold to people who are underage, or you see another potential violation of the FD&C Act or FDA’s tobacco regulations, please report the potential tobacco product violation.


Safe Disposal of E-Cigarettes

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s How to Safely Dispose of E-Cigarettes: Information for Individuals includes important information and a printable fact sheet about proper and safe disposal of e-cigarettes. Most important:   

  • Do NOT put e-cigarettes in your household trash or recycling
  • Take e-cigarettes to your household hazardous waste collection site

Are You a Manufacturer of E-Cigarettes, Vapes, or other ENDS?

FDA regulates the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of ENDS, including components and parts of ENDS but excluding accessories.

Examples of regulated components and parts of ENDS include:

CTP - ENDS Components thumbnail
  • E-liquids
  • A glass or plastic vial container of e-liquid
  • Cartridges
  • Atomizers, the part of the ENDS that turns e-liquid into vapor for inhalation
  • Cartomizers and clearomizers, which, similar to atomizers also deliver e-liquid in vapor form
  • Certain batteries
  • Digital display or lights to adjust settings
  • Tank systems
  • Drip tips or mouthpieces
  • Flavorings for ENDS
  • Programmable software

Products marketed for therapeutic purposes (for example, marketed as a product to help people quit smoking) are regulated by FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). FDA published a rule clarifying when products made or derived from tobacco are regulated as tobacco products, drugs, and/ or devices.

If you make, modify, mix, manufacture, fabricate, assemble, process, label, repack, relabel, or import ENDS, you must comply with the requirements for manufacturers.

CTP's Office of Small Business Assistance can answer specific questions about requirements for small businesses and how to comply with the law. This office also provides online educational resources to help regulated industry understand FDA regulations and policies.

Are You a Retailer of ENDS Products?

This is Our Watch

Tools for Retailers

This is Our Watch” is a voluntary education program with resources to help tobacco retailers better understand and comply with FDA tobacco regulations. Tobacco retailers play a direct role in protecting kids from nicotine addiction and the deadly effects of tobacco use. Learn what tobacco retailers need to do to comply with the rules designed to prevent our nation's youth from becoming the next generation of Americans to die prematurely from tobacco-related disease.

Retail Sales of Tobacco Products offers more information about federal rules that retailers must follow as well as information on regulations, guidance, and webinars for retailers.

Did You Know?

It is illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.

Vape Shops That Mix E-Liquids or Modify Products

If you operate a vape shop that mixes or prepares liquid nicotine or nicotine-containing e-liquids, or creates or modifies any type of ENDS, in addition to product sales, you may be considered a manufacturer and have to comply with the requirements for manufacturers linked above. 

Some vape shops may have legal responsibilities as both manufacturers and retailers of tobacco products.

For information about ENDS products that are authorized  for marketing in the U.S., view FDA’s “Searchable Tobacco Products Database."

Audience: Public Health Professionals, Retailers, Manufacturers

Topics: E-Cigarettes & Vaping, Prevention, Science & Research, Tobacco Product Laws