The third decade of the 21st century has just kicked off. The world is more reliant on research than it ever was. With popular myths being debunked with science day in and day out and medical literature being only a few clicks away, the world is finally letting intellectual honesty prevail… or one would think so. Since information is more easily accessible than it ever has been, it only makes sense that people will be making informed decisions regarding basic healthcare, right? Surprisingly, facts beg to differ.
One such pop culture trend that has managed to bypass scrutiny and has gained notable popularity is vaping. An electronic cigarette, popularly known as a vape, is a battery powered device which simulates tobacco smoking. Installed within them are cartridges or tanks which store a flavored, nicotine-infused liquid which is heated into a vapor by the heating coil of the device which is then inhaled by the user. Hence, the term, vaping.
Although cigarette smoking has gained considerable notoriety in recent years, owing to clever marketing gimmicks, it has found a way to sneak back into the ring of social acceptance under the new label of ‘vaping’. Unfortunately, the marketing has been so successful that according to a 2019 Health Promotion Board (HPB) survey with 600 respondents, it was found that almost 7 out of 10 young people were oblivious of the fact that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals. Due to the painful amount of ignorance surrounding this notion, the usage of vapes has increased exponentially. In 2011, there were about 7 million adult e-cigarette users globally, rising to 41 million in 2018, and to 68 million in 2020.
Instead of trusting hearsay, let’s go hand in hand with evidence and rationality, and allow me to explain why vaping is something which has no business being in a healthy person’s life.
- Vaping is unsafe
Although it is possible that e-cigarette aerosol or vapor might not contain all the toxins present in tobacco smoke, vaping is still far from safe. E-cigarette vapor contains potentially dangerous substances such as nicotine, diacetyl (a drug associated with severe lung disease), cancer-causing additives, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead. Since the vapor is also exhaled, those nearby are also exposed to these contaminants. Over a thousand cases of disease and injury have been attributed to vaping in the United States alone. About 62% of people who have gotten sick due to the effects of vaping are between the ages of 18 and 34 while a large 16% are below the age of 18. Some of the vape liquids also contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the main chemical responsible for the psychotic effects of marijuana. With so many of its effects still in the dark and with clear potential health hazards, vaping can not be brushed off as a healthy indulgence.
- Vaping is linked with pulmonary and cardiovascular damage
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a minimum of 60 deaths and close to 3000 cases of respiratory disease in the United States have been attributed to vaping as of 2020. The CDC has named this outbreak EVALI, or E-cigarette or Vaping product use-Associated Lung Injury. The main symptoms of lung disease resulting from vaping include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, tachycardia and stomach pain. A 2019 research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine strongly suggested that people who vape increase their risk of developing lung diseases by about 30% compared with non-users. Moreover, another research study presented at the American Stroke Association’s conference put forward some alarming statistics: It showed that vape users had a 71% higher risk of getting a stroke, 59% higher risk of a heart attack and a 40% higher risk of coronary heart disease. With such clinical evidence being put forward, vaping demands more caution.
- Vaping can possibly cause infertility and birth abnormalities
A study published by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put forth some unsettling findings recently in 2019. Substantial clinical evidence reveals that the chemicals in e-cigarettes make the process of embryo implantation discernibly more difficult. The report further suggested that vaping during pregnancy jeopardizes the normal, healthy development of a baby and increases the chances of developmental abnormalities. The author of the study further expounded on this matter: ‘’These findings are important because they change our views on the perceived safety of e-cigarettes as alternatives to traditional cigarettes before and during pregnancy.’’ With such concerns being voiced, the popularity that vaping enjoys amongst people of reproductive age should be seen as a major red flag.
- Vaping is incredibly addictive
When it comes to the young crowd, vapes are significantly more popular than other traditional means of tobacco consumption. In 2015, the USA surgeon general made it known that the use of vapes among high school students had increased by 900%, and around 40% of young users had not even smoked regular tobacco. The addictive potential of vaping can be easily attributed to nicotine, which is a major component of vape liquids. It is no secret that nicotine is a potent addictive chemical which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled. Within seconds, nicotine activates certain chemical reactions in the brain, giving the user a pleasurable ‘high’ and making them crave more. Due to the craving-compulsion cycle, a person keeps on injecting his body with more and more nicotine, hence, opening doors for potential health complications
- Vaping offers little to no help if you want to quit smoking
Some false advertising campaigns led by major vape brands have been successful in convincing people that vaping can be used as a smoking cessation tool. Consequently, a lot of smokers started turning to vapes in order to cut down on their smoking habits. However, a recent research study published in the journal PLOS One found evidence to the contrary. According to the study, more than 90% of smokers who also vaped were still smoking a year after the study began. It also found that 54% of these smokers were also still vaping, and 37% were still using cigarettes but had stopped using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices a year later. This just goes out to show that instead of helping you taper, the use of vapes just fuels you with higher doses of nicotine. There is a reason that the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as smoking cessation devices and no clinical literature supports the claim made by vape brands.
Having discussed all of that, I certainly hope that you are now better equipped to deal with all the misinformation about vaping and e-cigarettes.. Making healthy life choices is a responsibility that each and every one of us owe not only to ourselves but also to those who love us. So, here’s to healthier, smoke-free days ahead of us!