CDC's 2015 'Tips' Campaign Targets E-Cigs

E-cigarettes are often touted as a healthier alternative to their traditional counterparts and a way to help smokers quit, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't buy the hype. A new series of CDC ads squarely targets the trendy gadgets to show that users often keep smoking regular cigarettes, too, and that the devices lure in youngsters by portraying "vaping" as cool, getting them addicted to nicotine.

An Unknown Risk

Unlike their traditional tobacco-burning counterparts, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that battery operated e-cigs deliver flavored nicotine in vapor form. They're often portrayed as having little or no health risk when compared to regular cigarettes, but there is no data to back up those claims. The NAID says that the vapor often contains carcinogens and a variety of toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The vaporizing mechanism also produces metal nanoparticles that may be toxic.

E-cigs don't fall under the same marketing restrictions as regular cigarettes, so they're widely advertised and readily available. That availability might play a role in the fact that a survey found that 17 percent of high school students reported vaping in the prior month, while only 14 percent had smoked cigarettes, according to Bloomberg article.

E-Cigs Don't Stop Smokers

Even if e-cigs turn out to be less dangerous than regular smoking, the CDC says that three in four adults who vape also smoke cigarettes, pointing out, "If you only cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke by adding another tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, you still face serious health risks."

The agency is combating that risk with new ads in its Tips from Former Smokers series, directly addressing e-cig use. One such ad, featuring a smoker named Kristy, touts the fact that vaping didn't stop her cigarette use, eventually leading to a collapsed lung.

NIDA warns that because e-cigarettes are not marketed as either tobacco products or therapeutic devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has no control over them. The liquids used for vaping are totally unregulated, too, so there's no official way to confirm that they're actually safe. The FDA is expected to release regulations in June. Meanwhile, if you're a smoker and want to improve your health, check out this article on how to quit without relying on a device that may expose you to as-yet unknown problems.

How much do you know about health risks from traditional cigarettes? Test your knowledge with this quiz.