Electronic-cigarettes have many names and are also known as e-cigarettes, vapes, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDs).

Maybe,  you're curious about vaping. You've seen videos of people doing vape tricks on Tiktok  or Instagram and think it looks really fun.

You've probably  heard that vaping isn't as bad as smoking. You've been told that people use e-cigarettes to quit smoking, and unlike cigarettes, which everyone knows are bad for you, e-cigarettes are not supposed to be addictive… so what's the harm, right?

Stop. It's about time we got real about vaping. Here are 8 reasons why vaping is a bad idea.

1. Vaping is linked to at least 60 deaths

As of 18 Feb 2020, vaping has been linked to   68 deaths and over 2807 cases of lung injury related to vaping  in the United States [1]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US has called this outbreak EVALI, or E-cigarette or Vaping product use-Associated Lung Injury.

The CDC has identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing e-cigarettes, is strongly linked to the lung injury outbreak.  Vitamin E is usually not harmful when ingested or applied to the skin; however, the oil could cause respiratory issues when inhaled.

To be safe, the CDC recommends to avoid the use of e-cigarettes, especially by youths, young adults and pregnant women.

2. Vaping is not harmless

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that e-cigarettes are undoubtedly harmful to health and that they are not safer alternatives to regular cigarettes [2]. As e-cigarettes are relatively new products, many  long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown,  studies have shown that vaping is associated with increased risk of developing heart and lung diseases in the short term, such as  myocardial infarction, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) [2].

Vapourisers expose the user to a combination of harmful chemical substances like fine particulate matter (PM), cancer causing agents such as carbonyls and volatile organic compounds. Commonly found substances include cancer-causing compounds like formaldehyde and benzene. Formaldehyde is known to cause infertility as well. Toxic metal nanoparticles like tin, lead and nickel are also derived from the e-cigarette, heating element or vapouriser device itself [2].

The main function of e-cigarettes is primarily to dispense nicotine,  – a highly addictive substance that keeps users  nicotine-dependent and eventually become long-term users of vapes. In youths, nicotine exposure negatively affects the developing brain's ability to control attention and learning, lowers youths' impulse control permanently and can lead to mood disorders. Impulse control issues refer to the failure to resist urges. Common examples include sudden physical or verbal outbursts, internet addiction, compulsive eating etc  [3].

Lastly, certain compounds in vapes might be highlighted to be "food safe" compounds[4]], this may mislead individuals to mistakenly believe that the products are safe for use. However, "food safe" simply means these compounds are safe for consumption – not inhalation. The vaping process heats and vapourises these compounds, which can turn them from "safe" into something dangerous.

3. Vaping is habit-forming and addictive

As you have read earlier, vapes contain a highly addictive chemical, nicotine. When inhaled, nicotine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and within seconds, activates certain chemical reactions in the brain, giving the user a pleasurable "high" and making them crave more [6].

Vaping can be habit-forming when used as a coping mechanism during times of stress or when it becomes a part of a regular ritual where it is associated with a particular activity. For example, some people might vape after every meal, or, whenever they hang out with a certain group of friends or colleagues.

E-cigarettes do not burn out like traditional cigarettes and so users could end up vaping more than they realise.

4. Vaping isn't proven to help you quit cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are currently not recognised by the WHO as a legitimate cessation aid as there are no conclusive scientific evidence proving their safety and efficacy.  Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is not smoking cessation but perpetuation of an addictive behaviour. In fact, e-cigarettes are used as a complement to cigarette smoking and not as a substitute. This means many end up as "dual users" of both products, perpetuating their nicotine addiction and subjecting themselves to health harms associated from both products [2].

5. Vaping can be a gateway to trying traditional tobacco

 There is a growing number of studies from overseas such as Taiwan [4], UK [5], US [6] and Canada [7] that reported that never smoker youths who experiment with e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.   

A US systematic review of 9 studies involving more than 17,000 youths  found that youths  who vape   were three times more likely to pick up cigarette smoking, compared to non-vapers [6].   Similar reports from the other countries have also supported this "gateway effect".

6. Big Tobacco tactics you should know about

Vaping is popular with young people for a variety of reasons. However, the primary reason is because they're being targeted by e-cigarette companies [10]. In November 2019, Juul, the largest vaping company in the US, was sued by the States of New York [11], California [12], North Carolina[13]] and federally[14],] for misrepresenting the safety of its products and for their deceptive marketing practices targeting underage people [15,16].

An example of this was when a Juul representative told students at a school that Juul was "99% safer than cigarettes", and that it was "totally safe" [17]. Juul's packaging and outreach efforts were also deemed to be targeted at youths.

Like their traditional tobacco counterparts, e-cigarette companies prey on young people so they end up as life-longcustomers. They make vaping seem cool by creating and advertising  a certain sort of vaping lifestyle especially at youth-oriented events, and endorsed by social media influencers  [18].

Vape juice comes in all sorts of enticing scents or sweet flavours, many of which taste like candy, desserts or soft drinks to appeal to youths [10].  As a tobacco company representative once said, "It's a well-known fact that teenagers like sweet products…[19]

7. Vaping is illegal in Singapore

That's right. You basically can't do anything related to vaping without breaking the law[20]

Whether it's buying, selling, possessing or even sharing photos or videos of vaping on social media—if you do any of these, you're breaking the law.

It is an offence under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA) to sell, use, possess for sale, import or distribute imitation tobacco products. This includes e-cigarettes and anything else that resembles a smoking device. The TCASA covers everything—from confectionery and food products, to any toy, device or article:

  • That resembles, or is designed to resemble, a tobacco product;

  • That is capable of being smoked;

  • That may be used in such a way as to mimic the act of smoking; or

  • The packaging of which resembles, or is designed to resemble, the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products.

Sellers can be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 6 months for first offences. For second or subsequent offences, sellers can be fined up to $20,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months.

Promoting your vaping products for sale is also illegal, as it would come under the prohibition against "advertisements or promotions which would encourage or promote the use of tobacco products and imitation tobacco products which includes posting of smoking/vaping photos on social media platforms."

In September 2019, Chong Weisheng, a 35-year-old Singaporean man was fined $99,000 by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for selling electronic vaporisers[21]. This is the harshest vaping-related penalty imposed since 2014, when an offender was fined $64,500.

What if you own a vaping device?

Please dispose it. It is illegal to possess, purchase or use electronic vaporisers. If caught you could be fined up to $2,000.

8. Singapore is not the only country that has banned vaping

Around 37 countries have banned sales or distribution of e-cigarettes and other Emerging Tobacco Products, with more countries either heavily regulating or considering a ban, as the harms of vaping become increasingly known [22].

Within the South–East Asia and Western Pacific region, Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Japan, Korea (Democratic People's Republic), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, have banned ENDS.

Vaping – just don't try it

There are really no benefits to trying e-cigarettes. Vaping is harmful to one's health, and can lead to an addictive and costly habit. Not to mention the fact that it is also illegal in Singapore. 

Because of its illegal status, contents of vapes are not regulated and there is no way of telling what is actually in the vapes and e-juices  that are being sold. You could end up inhaling unknown substances that may be even more toxic than you realise.

Resources for Quitting

If you are looking to quit smoking, join the I Quit Programme and remain smoke free for 28 days and you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking. You can nominate your loved ones as a supporter when you sign up for the programme. Validate your smoke-free status and redeem a HPB eVoucher* worth $50 at the 28th day milestone. Keep going and you'll also receive eVouchers* worth $30 and $20 at the 3rd month and 6th month milestone respectively!

*Terms and conditions apply.

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use or Vaping https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
  2. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, Addressing new and emerging products, 2021. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, Addressing new and emerging products. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2021, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240032095. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
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  13. NC Department Of Justice "Attorney General Josh Stein Takes E-Cigarette Maker JUUL To Court - NC DOJ", 2019, https://ncdoj.gov/attorney-general-josh-stein-takes-e-cigarette-make/. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
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  15. "Juul Faces Mounting State Lawsuits In US". BBC News, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50479063. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
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  18. Jackler, Robert K. et al. JUUL Advertising Over Its First Three Years On The Market. Stanford University School Of Medicine, Stanford, California, 2019, https://tobacco-img.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/21231836/JUUL_Marketing_Stanford.pdf. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
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  21. Ang, Prisca. "35-Year-Old Man Who Sold E-Vaporisers Fined Record $99,000". The Straits Times, 2019, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/35-year-old-man-fined-99000-for-selling-e-vaporisers-highest-amount-in-past-5.
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