You’ve probably seen the headlines and read the news stories about the dangers of vaping. While some public health stories may seem alarmist in nature, in the case of e-cigarettes and their negative health impact, where there is smoke, there is fire.
The outbreak of vaping-related illnesses in the United States can be traced back to July 2019, when cases were reported to the Wisconsin and Illinois public health departments. As of February 4, 2020, there have since been 64 confirmed deaths associated with vaping or e-cigarette use, spread across 28 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, there have been another 2,758 cases of injury that required hospitalization, which have occurred in all 50 states. What is especially alarming is that vaping is popular among young people: A full 25% of high school seniors said they had vaped in 2019 and two-thirds of people who became ill because of e-cigarettes were between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the New York TImes.
In response to this outbreak, many states and cities have enacted or are considering bans on e-cigarettes, but many people may still be unaware about the real dangers that vaping can pose. That can be especially true for young people, who are drawn to the variety of flavored products that can be used in vape pens, as well as people who view it as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products such as traditional cigarettes. Here is what you should know about the risks of e-cigarette use.
What is Vaping?
The term e-cigarettes is short for electronic cigarettes. These are battery-powered devices that may also be called vapes, vape pens, e-hookahs, or mods. No matter the name, they all work to deliver nicotine to the user. The e-cigarette contains a liquid that, when heated, produces an aerosol that can be inhaled. While this aerosol vapor is inhaled directly into the lungs, it’s generally thought to not contain as many chemicals as regular cigarettes have when the tobacco is ignited. In addition to nicotine, vaping liquid can contain a variety of additives or flavors to make the product more palatable to users.
Vaping is big business. It’s been estimated that there are more than 460 e-cigarette brands for consumers to choose from. Between 2012 and 2016, the CDC reports that average monthly sales increased by 132%. In 2016, e-cigarettes were a $3.6 billion business in America.
The Dangers of E-Cigarettes
Because vaping is a relatively recent phenomenon, the research on its safety is still in its early stages. However, there is already enough evidence to know that there are definitely certain risks users face. Among them:
- It’s an easy way for young people to get addicted to nicotine.
Given the high number of youth that reportedly vape, it’s a lucrative market for e-cigarette marketers. The companies have responded by producing vape liquids in fun, kid-friendly flavors such as cotton candy, grape, and berry. These flavors mask the nicotine, so kids may not realize they are consuming a toxic chemical when they are vaping. Also, some vape devices are small and look unassuming, like a flash drive or a regular pen. This, combined with the lack of telltale cigarette smoke, makes it easy for kids to hide their vaping from parents or other adults. Finally, it’s thought that e-cigarettes can lead teens to become more easily hooked not just on nicotine, but also on illicit drugs such as meth or cocaine.
- E-cigarettes can have adverse health effects.
Already, researchers are noting the problems that can be associated with vaping. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found an association between e-cigarettes and a higher risk of lung issues such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Data also indicates that people who vape are more likely to suffer heart attack, stroke, or emotional stress compared to people who don’t use e-cigarettes. Nicotine, the major ingredient in vape liquid, is also highly addictive and can trigger withdrawal symptoms when a user tries to quit. It can affect the body’s organs and major systems (respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, reproductive, and immune systems among them). And of course, there is the ongoing outbreak of vape-associated illness, which is similar to the flu or pneumonia and can result in serious lung damage or, in extreme cases, death.
- Vape liquid may not always be what it seems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began regulating e-cigarette products in 2016, but vaping opponents say the federal agency still has much work to do in catching up on its oversight of the many products on the market. Vape liquid can legally contain chemicals, such as propylene glycol, which help create the aerosol. But some liquids also may legally contain substances derived from marijuana such as cannabinoid (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the latter has some legal uses in e-cigarettes, it also is prevalent on the black market because it is responsible for marijuana’s high. Plus, Vitamin E acetate is often combined with THC, and the Vitamin E acetate is suspected to be harmful when inhaled and the CDC says it is “strongly linked” to the outbreak of vaping illnesses.
Vaping’s dangers include increased health risks as well as a greater chance of addiction to nicotine. If you are struggling with e-cigarette use, to the detriment of your health and wellness, contact Clear Sky Recovery. We can help you with your nicotine addiction thanks to our innovative and medically sound ibogaine treatment program. Contact us today to learn more.