Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Current Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with
E-cigarette Use

Several Illinois residents have been hospitalized with severe breathing problems and reported recent vaping. A particular product or vaping device has not been determined as the source of these recent hospitalizations. It is advised for all people who vape to quit using the device and products and to talk to a healthcare provider if they are experiencing breathing issues. Please read the CDC's recommendations to the public.

If you are a current e-cigarette user, please take a few minutes to complete this anonymous survey. The Illinois Department of Public Health is looking to understand if vaping habits are different between people who have become ill after vaping, and those who have not.

Please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's website to stay up to date with the lung injury cases. IDPH will update their site every Thursday to reflect current numbers.

Champaign County E-Cigarette-Free Organizations

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CUPHD thanks organizations that protect health by prohibiting e-cigarettes.

Click here for an updated list of e-cigarette-free organizations in Champaign County.

CUPHD recommends e-cigarette-free policies, and assists organizations in going e-cigarette-free. Contact us at for more information or assistance. Also, a sample e-cigarette free policy can be found here.

What is an E-Cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are devices that use a heating element to turn flavored liquids into an aerosol, which users inhale. E-cigarette devices come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, and sometimes resemble other tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookah. You may hear e-cigarettes referred to as vapes, vape pens, mods, carts, tank systems, e-hookah, e-cigars, dab pens, or ENDS, or by their brand name, like JUUL or Blu. The act of using an e-cigarette is often called "vaping".

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E-Cigarette Liquids

Some e-cigarettes are disposable, while others allow you to refill/reuse the device with liquids purchased separately. The liquids used in e-cigarettes come in thousands of flavors and typically contain nicotine (or sometimes other compounds, like THC). The ingredients, including nicotine levels, can vary between brands and flavors, and not all products are thoroughly labeled.


The FDA has regulatory authority over e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, only a small number of regulations on e-cigarettes or liquids have been implemented to date. Without regulations in place on the manufacture, sale, and advertising of e-cigarette devices and liquids, it is difficult for consumers to know what the products contain.

In Illinois, the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes and liquids is 21.

What's in the Aerosol?

Despite the commonly used term "vaping", the substance inhaled and exhaled by an e-cigarette user is not vapor, it is an aerosol containing a number of potentially harmful chemicals and particulates. Heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead, flavorings known to cause lung disease, ultrafine particles, and carcinogens have all been found in e-cigarette aerosols. These chemicals, including nicotine, are also released into the air and can be inhaled secondhand.1

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Health Effects

Since e-cigarettes are a relatively new product, there is much research left to be done on their long-term health effects. While studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol is less harmful than traditional tobacco smoke, that does not mean that it is safe. E-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain lung irritants, cancer-causing agents, heavy metals, and often, nicotine – therefore, it is recommended that anyone who is not already a smoker should not start using e-cigarettes.1

One thing we know for certain is the harm caused by nicotine, which most e-liquids contain. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and is especially harmful to pregnant women and unborn fetuses, and to the developing brains of children and young adults.5

E-Cigarettes and Youth

In recent years, e-cigarette use among youth and young adults has reached epidemic proportions. In 2018, 3.62 million middle and high school students reported being current users of e-cigarettes. This represents a 78% increase in high school use and a 48% increase in middle school use in just one year.2

E-cigarettes are unsafe for youth use. The nicotine found in most e-cigarettes is harmful to youth brain development, highly addictive, and increases the likelihood of using traditional tobacco products and other drugs. Nicotine is also poisonous to humans and pets when ingested or absorbed through the skin. Additionally, fires and explosions caused by faulty e-cigarette devices have led to serious injuries.3

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Some smokers have reported success using e-cigarettes as a quit smoking tool. However, e-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA as a smoking cessation device, so consumers should exercise caution with this method. E-cigarettes themselves can be addictive, and many who intend to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking may find themselves continuing to use both products (dual use).4

For help kicking an e-cigarette addiction, consult the resources below and/or speak with your doctor. Additionally, many of the therapies used for smoking cessation can be helpful with e-cigarette cessation, like counseling, certain medications, and nicotine replacement therapies like the nicotine patch, gum, and inhaler.

E-cigarette-free Window Clings

window clingContact us if you have an e-cigarette-free organization and you would like one of our free window clings.

More Information on E-Cigarettes

Adolescents who use e-cigarettes are much more likely to try tobacco, CDC says
CDC Fact Sheet, Youth and Tobacco Use