Dangers of Vaping
Whether you’re a teen, young adult, or even a parent, you’ve probably heard of vaping. These small, relatively inconspicuous devices are making their way through schools and campuses all over the United States – and it is proving to be a significant health risk. If you’re one of the millions of people who vape regularly or know someone who vapes, keep reading to learn the danger they pose. You may be surprised.
What is Vaping?
Vaping began as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and consists of inhaling and exhaling vapors produced by heating a liquid coming in a “pod” with a battery-powered coil. Vaping is a new and under-researched trend. They are known as vaporizers, vapes, Juuls, e-cigs, and multiple other titles. Vaping has become popular with teens and young adults due to its easier access and assumed lesser risk factors.
Who Is Vaping?
As of 2019, it is believed that more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students are vaping, despite the widespread 21-year old age requirement for use. Part of the allure of these vapes is the assortment of available fun flavors. From classics like vanilla and coffee to birthday cake, hot dogs, and even beer, there is no shortage of options to choose from. And these flavors are believed to be one of the main reasons younger people are vaping. They want to try the different flavors and share them with friends, furthering the cycle of use.
The trend doesn’t stop by the time college rolls around; however, as young adults are also at risk from the same health effects as children and teens. You may feel lesser effects due to a more developed body and brain, which can lead to higher consumption and higher risk factors.
Vaping Risk Factors
Vaping has been incorrectly believed to be a healthier alternative to the tobacco and chemicals inside most cigarettes. Therefore, vaping was encouraged for use in those who wanted to stop smoking. They were even allowed to use indoors in some states. However, as with any new technology, there are question marks about its use; and now, research that highlights the long-term dangers of vaping.
Inhaling any form of superheated vapor can potentially cause respiratory irritation over the short and long term. However, this risk is not our primary concern when it comes to the dangers of vaping. The risk factors associated with vaping can be broken down into two primary categories – chemical exposure and addiction.
Chemical Exposure During Vaping
Vape juice consists of a variety of chemicals depending on the manufacturer, type of juice, and flavor. However, they will often contain some level of nicotine, propylene glycol or glycerol, vitamin E acetate, and in some cases THC. All of these substances are relatively safe for consumption in small doses. However, when you add all of these ingredients together, it makes for a dangerous recipe.
Upon inhaling the vapor, the chemicals are broken down and taken into the lungs and absorbed alongside heavy metals and anything else that vaporized into an aerosol. In addition to irritating your lungs, these dangers can effectively damage your lungs over long periods, allowing carcinogenic chemicals like formaldehyde and acrolein into your body. These can cause breathing problems due to toxic accumulation inside your lungs, potential lung cancer, and even damage to your DNA over more extended periods.
All of this chemical exposure has led to over 450 cases of severe lung disease in the United States. The CDC, FDA, and Surgeon General are all pleading people – especially teens – to stop vaping.
Nicotine is a well-known addictive substance, taking the blame for smoking addictions all over the world for the past century. One of the initial selling points of vapes was that they allowed you to cut down on your nicotine consumption (and make it cleaner by avoiding cigarette smoke). But that has gone out the window with many juices containing various levels of nicotine. This had led to easier, sometimes even unknowing exposure to nicotine for teens and younger adults that may act as a gateway drug to cigarettes in the future. It also makes it much easier to consume excessive amounts of nicotine, as vaping is more passive than smoking a cigarette.
Even when using non-nicotine vape juices, vaping can still cause psychological addiction. The chemical release of dopamine that the flavored pods can produce may encourage future drug-related behaviors. Some research has recently shown that teens who vape are more likely than non-vapers to escalate to cigarettes – or other drugs – within a year.
Prevent the Dangers of Vaping
No matter who you are or how old you are, vaping can be both addictive and dangerous. We need to look at vapes the same way we do alcohol or prescription drugs. Just because they are legal, doesn't mean that we should not realize the dangers of vaping.