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Effects of vaping on the body

Vapes are relatively new compared to cigarettes, so we are yet to see all the long-term effects vaping may have on the body (it took decades before some of the long-term effects of smoking became evident). What we know now is that vaping can damage many parts of the body, including the cardiovascular system, lungs and airways, and the brain and nervous system.

Here’s what we know about how vaping effects the body:


Vaping can cause serious and sometimes fatal lung disease.1 Some people who vape have signs of lung damage and reduced lung function.1 This damage increases their risk of lung disease in the future.


Many vapes contain nicotine (even if they aren’t labelled that way) which is highly addictive. Teens become more easily and rapidly addicted to nicotine than adults2, 3 Being addicted to nicotine can make you feel like vaping is controlling you and can impact your daily life.


Many vapes contain high concentrations of nicotine, even if it doesn’t say so on the label. This high level of nicotine causes seizures in some people who vape.1 Nicotine harms the way a teenage brain grows, which may affect memory and concentration.4

Teeth & gums

Vaping may harm the teeth and gums. People who vape are more likely to have gum disease (periodontitis), which leads to tooth loss.5, 6

Pregnancy & developing baby

Nicotine exposure during pregnancy can harm a developing baby.7 Babies whose mothers vape during pregnancy are more likely to be born at lower size. This is called “small for gestational age”.8

Heart & cardiovascular system

For people who also smoke, vaping can increase their heart rate and blood pressure, and harden arteries.1 People who smoke and vape are also more like to get nausea, coughing, headache, and sore throat from vaping.1

Risk of cancer

Due to the short time that vapes have been around, their long-term health effects are not known. Health organisations are concerned that long-term use of vapes might cause cancer because:

  • There are chemicals found in vapes that are known causes of cancer. These include acrolein, arsenic, benzene, benzo[a]pyrene, cadmium, formaldehyde, styrene, and toluene.9  

  • In people who vape, there are signs of cell damage and of a higher cancer risk in the future.9

Fire & safety risks

Vapes can explode or catch fire. Burns and injuries from vapes can be fatal. Burns and injuries most commonly occur on faces, hands, and around the genitals (when vapes are kept in pockets). Some people have died from head wounds from exploding vapes. Vapes can also cause small and large fires, and therefore injury.1

Poisoning risk

The high levels of nicotine in vapes make the vape liquid dangerous. E-liquids are poisonous if swallowed, spilt on the skin, or if it gets in the eyes. Nicotine poisoning causes seizures that can be fatal.1, 10 There have been many accidental poisonings of children under the age of six.1 See more information on the dangers of liquid nicotine

Increased likelihood of smoking

There is strong evidence that vaping approximately triples the chance that someone will start smoking tobacco cigarettes, putting them at risk of all the health harms associated with smoking.1 This may be caused by vapes creating nicotine addiction and normalising smoking behaviours.4

  1. Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, Nguyen M, Martin M, Beckwith K, Daluwatta A, Campbell S, and Joshy G. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: systematic review of global evidence. Report for the Australian Department of Health. Canberra: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, 2022.     

  2. Doubeni CA, Reed G, and Difranza JR. Early course of nicotine dependence in adolescent smokers. Pediatrics, 2010; 125(6): 1127-33. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-0238.

  3.    O'Loughlin J, DiFranza J, Tyndale RF, Meshefedjian G, McMillan-Davey E, Clarke PBS, Hanley J, and Paradis G. Nicotine-dependence symptoms are associated with smoking frequency in adolescents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2003; 25(3): 219-25. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(03)00198-3.

  4. Greenhalgh EM, and Scollo MM. Effects of e-cigarette use on smoking. In Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2023. Available from:

  5. Atuegwu NC, Perez MF, Oncken C, Thacker S, Mead EL, et al. Association between regular electronic nicotine product use and self-reported periodontal disease status: Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019; 16(7). doi: 10.3390/ijerph16071263. Available from:

  6. Chaffee BW, Lauten K, Sharma E, Everard CD, Duffy K, et al. Oral health in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. Journal of Dental Research, 2022; 101(9): 1046-54. doi: 10.1177/00220345221086272. Available from:

  7. Bell L, Whelan M, Thomas L, Edwards E, Lycett D, Hayward K, Wilson K, Harrison R, Patel R. Use of e-cigarettes in pregnancy: A systematic review of evidence published from 2020-2022. Journal of Public Health. 2023; 26: 1-4.

  8. Shittu AAT, Kumar BP, Okafor U, Berkelhamer SK, Goniewicz ML, et al. Changes in e-cigarette and cigarette use during pregnancy and their association with small-for-gestational-age birth. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2022; 226(5): 730.e1-730.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2021.11.1354. Available from:

  9. Winnall W, Greenhalgh EM, and Scollo MM. 18.6.0 Introduction. In Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2023.  Available from:

  10. QUIT. The dangers of nicotine in vaping liquid; 2024. Available from:

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.  

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Last updated February 2024

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