Since electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, hit the market in the early 2000s, they have soared in popularity and use, especially among teens and young adults. Once thought a “safer” way to smoke, vaping with e-cigarettes is now called a public health crisis by many health groups.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices used for a type of smoking called vaping. They produce a mist that is inhaled deep into the lungs, mimicking the feeling of smoking regular cigarettes.
The main target market for e-cigarette is teens and young adults.
Like traditional cigarettes, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. The exact amount varies by brand. Some have as much or more than paper cigarettes. They may also have added flavors and contain a variety of other chemicals.
E-cigarettes use batteries or electricity to heat up a liquid until it turns into a mist. The mist may contain:
- chemical flavorings
- microscopic particles
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- heavy metals, such as lead, tin, and nickel
E-cigarettes can look like regular cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. They may also resemble sleek electronic devices, making them appealing to younger users.
In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes can also be used to inhale other drugs, such as marijuana.
E-cigarettes are still relatively new, so their long-term effects are not yet known. They may, however, pose multiple risks. In general, e-cigarettes are not safe for young people or for pregnant women. Vaping is no safer for developing fetuses than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Vaping may have some benefit for smokers who switch it as a complete substitute for using other tobacco products.
The risks of using e-cigarettes include:
Nicotine is highly addictive, and most e-cigarettes include it as a main ingredient. Some e-cigarette labels have claimed that their product had no nicotine when, in fact, it was in the vapor. For this reason, it’s important to use only trusted brands if you vape.
Originally, it was thought that vaping might be helpful for people trying to quit smoking. But, this early theory has not been proven. Some people who vape also continue to smoke regular cigarettes, despite a strong desire to quit.
Drug and alcohol addiction
The Surgeon General of the United States reports the nicotine in e-cigarettes might prime the brain for addiction to other things, such as alcohol and cocaine. This is especially true for teens.
E-cigarettes contain added flavors that young people enjoy. Some of these additives have health risks, such as diacetyl which has a buttery taste. Diacetyl has been found to cause a severe lung disease similar to bronchiolitis.
Cinnemaldehyde, which tastes like cinnamon, is another popular vaping flavor that may be harmful to lung tissue.
E-cigarettes contain many of the same cancer-causing chemicals that regular cigarettes do. Research published in 2017 found that the high temperatures needed to form the mist for vaping can create dozens of toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, which is thought to cause cancer.
E-cigarettes have been known to spontaneously explode. This has caused injury. Vape explosions have been linked to faulty batteries in vaping devices. While rare, vape explosions can be very dangerous and can cause severe injury.
The majority of e-cigarette users are young. Their brains are still developing and forming the structure and connections necessary for the mature behavior of adulthood.
During this time, the teen brain is developing in ways that lead to the ability to make decisions, understand consequences, and accept delayed rewards. Nicotine exposure during this vital time can affect brain development in subtle and important ways.
Young people who vape may be more likely to become addicted than adults. A 2018 report published in JAMA Pediatrics indicates that e-cigarette smokers are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes than individuals who do not vape.
vaping: a teen epidemic
The Food and Drug Administration has identified e-cigarette use as an epidemic among young people. Tobacco companies may be fueling this epidemic. Much of the advertising for e-cigarettes is designed to appeal to teens and young adults, the which comprises most of its users. More than 18 million young people, including high school and middle school students, have been exposed to e-cigarette advertising.
In 2018, 3.6 million U.S. high school and middle school students had smoked an e-cigarette within 30 days of polling, making it the most common tobacco product used among this group.
It’s a myth that e-cigarettes are not dangerous. Any product containing nicotine and toxins has the potential to harm and cause addiction. For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that teens do not vape.
E-cigarettes contain many of the same toxins as regular cigarettes but they may have smaller amounts. Some brands also have much less nicotine than regular cigarettes or no nicotine at all. This makes them a better choice for people who already smoke or use other tobacco products.
One of the reasons why the e-cigarette epidemic among young people is so troubling is that e-cigarette use seems to lead to the use of traditional cigarettes. Tobacco and nicotine addiction are well-documented health hazards.
Vaping can cause eye, throat, and nose irritation, as well as irritation in the respiratory tract.
The nicotine in e-cigarettes can cause dizziness and nausea, especially in new users.
Drinking vaping liquid can cause nicotine poisoning.
Single-use, disposable e-cigarettes cost anywhere from $1 to $15 each or more. Rechargeable starter kits with multiple pods can cost anywhere from $25 to $150 or more. You can also buy liquid refills for kits at around $50 to $75 monthly.
Vaping has become an epidemic among young people in the United States. E-cigarettes usually contain nicotine and are addictive. They also contain toxins that can be damaging to your lungs and overall health.
E-cigarettes have been strongly linked to continued tobacco use and are not recommended for young people. They are also harmful to fetuses. E-cigarettes may have some benefit for current traditional cigarette smokers, if they switch to vaping exclusively.