There are many types of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (or ENDS). They are commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or vaping devices. An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine (commonly called e-juice) into an aerosol that the user inhales. Some of these devices are pre-loaded with the e-juice and some require the user to add it. 

The original e-cigarettes looked like a cigarette, came pre-loaded and were disposable. Later e-cigarettes either looked like pens or contained more bulky battery boxes (known as Mods).  The claim is that they were originally designed to help smokers quit smoking traditional cigarettes, however there has been no scientific evidence to prove that e-cigarettes work as a method to help people quit smoking.

Nicotine is an addictive chemical that mimics a chemical that our brains produce naturally and easily binds to receptors in the brain that are made for that chemical. When those receptors get filled, it sets off a chain reaction that leads the brain to feel pleasure. Pleasure is necessary for survival because it encourages us to do activities that keep us alive like eating, sleeping, and building relationships.

However, no matter what kind of device it comes from, nicotine hijacks this “pleasure pathway” and tricks the brain into interpreting the chemical signal as pleasurable and necessary for survival. Continuing to use nicotine in any form will result in addiction. This means that nicotine turns your brain against you so that you feel forced to keep using nicotine just to feel normal.

Nicotine use in early adolescence causes changes in the brain that make life-long addiction much more likely for young e-cig/vape users by disrupting normal brain development and altering the physical structure of the brain and creating permanent changes. It can have long-lasting effects, like increased impulsivity and mood disorders.