UT University Health Services

Vaping (E-Cigarettes), Smokeless Tobacco and Hookah

Vaping (E-Cigarettes)

What is Vaping?
Vaping is an alternative way of getting the effects of smoking tobacco or marijuana. Devices used for vaping are often referred to as e-cigarettes, vapes, or vape pens. They function by heating a chemical (“vape juice”), most commonly containing nicotine or THC, to create an aerosol that is then inhaled. This chemical sometimes has added flavors, similar to Hookah. These devices come in many forms; some look like USB drives, others like pens, and others like various everyday items.

Facts about vaping

  • While e-cigarettes do contain fewer harmful chemicals than smoke from burned tobacco products, they are still harmful to the body.
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for 18 to 22-year-old young adults, particularly if they are not already using other tobacco or marijuana products.
  • A majority of young adults who use e-cigarettes report using flavored vape juice.
  • There is some evidence that e-cigarette use by young adults can lead to cigarette use.
  • Long-term research is needed to understand fully the effects and risks of vaping.

Risks/Health Implications

  • Lung injuries causing symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain - at times associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can negatively affect brain development, which continues through the mid-twenties.
  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes contains many other harmful substances besides nicotine or THC and often has a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes.
  • Chemicals found in e-cigarettes are known to contribute to the development of lung disease and cancer.

Vaping at UT

  • UT is a tobacco-free campus. The use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes/vaping of any form, is prohibited on campus property. The Tobacco-free Campus policy is part of the university's commitment to creating a healthy environment for members of the UT community.

Tobacco Cessation

  • E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved method for quitting smoking, and scientists have much to learn about whether they are effective in helping smokers quit.
  • There are other effective methods for quitting smoking. Those interested in quitting smoking or vaping can visit Resources to Help You Quit Smoking and Tobacco to learn more.

Smokeless Tobacco

Instead of smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco products consist of tobacco or a tobacco blend that is most often chewed, sucked on, or sniffed. There are many different types of smokeless tobacco. The main types are:

  • Chewing Tobacco - Sweetened, loose tobacco leaves are placed between the user's cheek and gum, held there, sometimes for hours at a time, to usually spit out or sometimes swallow the tobacco juices.
  • e-Cigarette - Electronic cigarette or personal vaporizer, a battery powered device, which orally delivers smokeless nicotine vapor, flavor, and physical sensation similar to conventional cigarettes. Even though e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, the FDA has found cancer-causing chemicals in the vapors.
  • Snuff - Snuff is finely ground or shredded tobacco leaves, packaged in tins or tea bag-like pouches. A pinch is placed between the lower lip and gum or cheek and gum. Dry forms of snuff can be sniffed into the nose. The process of using snuff is also called dipping.
  • Snus - Snus (pronounced snoos) is a spitless tobacco product. It comes in a pouch and users stick it between their upper lip and gums.
  • Dissolvable Tobacco - These are pieces of compressed powdered tobacco, similar to small hard candies. They dissolve in your mouth, requiring no spitting of tobacco juices. They're sometimes called tobacco lozenges, but they are not the same as the nicotine lozenges used to help you quit smoking.

Does Smokeless Tobacco Help You Quit Smoking?

Smokeless tobacco is NOT safe or an effective alternative for people who want to quit smoking. Nicotine gum or patch is a much safer treatment to quit smoking cigarettes. Learn more about Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

Health Risks - Smokeless Tobacco Products

  • Addiction - Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, the user can get addicted, just as they can with cigarettes and other tobacco products. The body may actually absorb more nicotine from chewing tobacco or snuff than it does from a cigarette.
  • Cancer - Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 cancer-causing agents. The user's risk of esophageal, mouth, throat, lips, tongue, gum, and chin cancer increases if they use smokeless tobacco products.
  • Cavities - Chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco cause tooth decay. Chewing tobacco contains high amounts of sugar and coarse particles that make the user's teeth more vulnerable to cavities.
  • Gum Disease - The sugar and irritants in smokeless tobacco can cause the user's gums to pull away from their teeth in the area of their mouth where they place the chew.
  • Heart Disease - Smokeless tobacco use increases the user's heart rate and blood pressure. Repeated nicotine exposure through smokeless products contributes to accelerated coronary heart disease, hypertension and increases the risk of fatal heart attack and stroke.
  • Precancerous Mouth Lesions - Smokeless tobacco increases the user's risk of developing small white patches called leukoplakia, which are precancerous lesions, are inside their mouth where the chew is most often placed.


Hookah is often promoted as being safer than cigarette smoking; however, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

What is Hookah?

  • A hookah is a water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco
  • Heated with charcoal, the smoke passes through water in the hookah before inhaled from a mouthpiece
  • Typically smoked in groups, the mouthpiece is passed from person-to-person
  • A hookah session typically lasts about 1 hour

The facts about Hookah

  • Gram for gram, Hookah smoke contains more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than cigarette smoke
  • Besides increasing your risk of cancer, the nicotine in Hookah smoke can cause yellow teeth, wrinkles, and erectile dysfunction
  • Secondhand smoke from Hookah poses a risk for nonsmokers
  • An hour of Hookah smoking delivers as much carbon monoxide to the user as a pack of cigarettes
  • Sharing the hookah mouthpiece can spread many communicable diseases including hepatitis, tuberculosis and meningitis.
  • Irritation caused by the mouthpiece may give hookah users an even higher risk of cancers in the mouth than cigarette smokers


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hookah fact sheet
  2. World Health Organization: WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation

Helpful Links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Electronic Cigarettes Info Page
Texas Department of State Health Services Lung Disease Among E-cigarette Users Page
Tobacco-free Campus Policy
Smoking, Tobacco, and Nicotine
Resources to Help You Quit Smoking and Tobacco
UT University Health Services UT University Health Services

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