Photo of a person holding a JUUL on an outdoor porch.

While vaping can serve as an alternative to cigarette smoking, it still poses a number of inherent risks, especially for young adults. Most vape products contain nicotine, the same highly addictive substance found in cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In addition to nicotine, many vape juices contain ingredients like propylene glycol, glycerol and heavy metal particles that can damage the lining of your lungs. For this reason, vapes should be used with caution.

Here are seven things you should know if you choose to vape.

1. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks

If you currently vape or are thinking about trying it, take some time to reflect on your use. This can help you have more control over your experiences when vaping. To get started, think about the feelings, actions or benefits you want to experience while vaping. Next, think through some of the things you want to avoid experiencing.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

If I choose to vape, I want to:

  • Reduce my cigarette or tobacco use
  • Socialize with friends
  • Feel buzzed
  • Enjoy the flavor

If I choose to vape, I don’t want to:

  • Become addicted or dependent on nicotine
  • Experience health problems or negative side effects
  • Spend too much money on a vaping habit

Working through these types of exercises can be a great way to explore or modify your choices around vaping. 

2. Labels matter

While most vape juice contains nicotine, there are a number of options available that are nicotine-free. These can be a better alternative for those who vape but want to avoid the addictive effects. If you do choose to use nicotine-based products, look for lower-dose options (1.5-3 mg). Opting for lower nicotine levels can help to satisfy cravings without overloading your system.

3. Not all vapes are created equal

Dosage matters, and the device you use is just as important. Power (wattage) can vary from device to device. Knowing the wattage of your device can help you make better decisions around dosage. High-powered devices like box vapes (20+ watts), should be used with low dose juices (less than 3 mg) in order to reduce your risk of experiencing adverse side effects.

4. Know your limits

It’s important to know your limits when it comes to vaping, especially if you are new to using nicotine. Your tolerance may not be as high as those that vape or smoke more regularly, so start low and slow. Consuming too much nicotine can cause negative side effects, including…

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach ache
  • Eye irritation
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Sweating

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

​ If you experience any of these symptoms within the first 15 to 60 minutes of vaping, call the National Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222, and follow-up with your healthcare provider.

You may also want to consider reducing how often and how much you vape, which can reduce the chances of unwanted health consequences. If you’re a regular smoker or tobacco user, consider lowering your nicotine dose by at least one level when vaping.

5. Avoid sharing

Sharing isn’t always caring. In fact, sharing vapes can expose you to a number of diseases like the cold, flu, COVID, mono or meningitis, which can all be transferred from person to person through saliva. Sharing with friends may also mean you’re getting higher doses of nicotine than you’re used to. Keep yourself healthy and safe by using your own vape and keeping it clean with proper maintenance. This is especially important for those using reusable box vapes or pens that require coils or filters.

6. Vape products require special disposal

Did you know vape products are considered hazardous materials?

Avoid throwing vape products in normal trash or recycling bins. Instead, all devices, pods and batteries should be disposed of properly in designated drop boxes. 

Hazardous waste drop boxes are available on campus at the University Memorial Center (UMC) on the first floor across from the Starbucks and at the West Boulder Recycling Center on 63rd Street. If you live outside of Boulder, you can use this hazardous waste facilities finder to search for disposal sites in your area. 

7. Support resources are available

If you’re thinking about quitting, are not ready to quit or have already quit vaping, the Colorado QuitLine can help you with each step of the way.

You can also check out these resources for students, staff and faculty.

Health Promotion

Health Promotion offers free resources and support to students, faculty and staff including:

  • Nicotine cessation coaching
  • Free quit kits
  • Tips for overcoming cravings

The Apothecary Pharmacy

The Apothecary Pharmacy at Wardenburg offers nicotine patches and gum for sale over the counter. No prescription or insurance required.

Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC)

The CUCRC offers community, support and connection for students, faculty and staff in recovery or seeking recovery from a wide range of behaviors. Recovery at the CUCRC includes substance use disorders, nicotine, caffeine, self-harm, disordered eating and other addictive behaviors. 

Boulder County Public Health

Boulder County Public Health offers a number of free support services to help teens and adults quit tobacco products, including vaping.