E-cigarettes are electronic devices that come in numerous shapes and sizes. They may look like a traditional cigarette or resemble other devices such as a pen, a USB flash drive, or may be in a small tank system. Known by a variety of names like e-cigs, vape pens, vapes, and tank systems, the use of an e-cigarette is commonly referred to as “vaping” or “JUULing”. Much like a traditional cigarette, a person will inhale to smoke, but the liquid used in these devices contain nicotine and a variety of flavors. This makes them appeal to a wider variety of users.
The Truth About Vaping
E-cigarettes are commonly marketed as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, but there are still risks involved in using it. In fact, many e-cigarette brands are owned by tobacco companies which further indicates that the purpose of cessation may not be entirely accurate. While some report that e-cigarettes contain less chemicals than e-cigarettes, these electronic devices still contain flavoring and other chemicals that mix with nicotine. Despite how they are popularly depicted, the reality of vaping or JUULing is:
- Vaping and JUULing is bad for your health: Even though e-cigarettes are marketed as healthy alternatives to traditional cigarettes, there are many unknowns regarding the products still. Little is known about what chemicals are used to produce the vapor and what the long-term effects of use are. Because these are relatively new devices, many users are risking exposing themselves to chemicals that we do not have much information about. Nicotine is still the primary ingredient in e-cigs, just like cigarettes, and it is a highly addictive substance. Nicotine can be toxic to your health, producing withdrawal symptoms when not used, increasing blood pressure, and causing adrenaline to rise.
- E-cigarettes are just as addictive: Despite claims that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, e-cigarettes actually provide users with the ability to use even more nicotine than what would be found in a standard tobacco product. Many of these devices allow users to adjust the strength of what they are smoking and even have extra-strength cartridges available, delivering significantly more nicotine to the user. Those who are looking to overcome their addiction to cigarettes may find they are substituting one addiction for another.
- E-cigarettes are leading to higher rates of addiction: E-cigs are highly popular devices, especially among adolescents and young adults who enjoy the wide array of flavors. The fruity, delicious smell of the juice used in electronic smoking devices reduce the stigma of smoking. Rather than dealing with smoke and an unpleasant smell, many enjoy the flavor and smell of products that seem to be formulated to appeal to younger users. Additionally, because many people believe vaping is less harmful than smoking, an increasing number of adolescents are more willing to experiment than they would be with traditional cigarettes.
- E-cigarette aerosol is not “water vapor”: Many advertise the vapor of e-cigarettes are harmless, advocating for their use indoors and in public places. In reality, the aerosol exhaled from these devices contains nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, and other compounds that are dangerous to a person’s health. Because these devices are not fully regulated, it is impossible to know exactly what a person is exposing themselves and those around them to.
- E-cigarettes create other hazards: In addition to the dangers of smoking, the devices themselves can cause serious illness and injury. Reports of defective devices causing fires or explosions have left many people with serious injuries. Additionally, there have been cases of children ingesting or becoming exposed to the juice used in e-cigarettes. Poisonings have occurred through swallowing, breathing, or coming into contact with the liquid through the skin or eyes.
While the long-term consequences of e-cigarette use are largely unknown, the evidence uncovered so far suggests that e-cigarettes may have a dramatic impact on a person’s overall health. Many studies thus far suggest that e-cigarette usage, especially early in life, can put a person at an increased risk to smoke more frequently in the future and may increase the likelihood of smoking traditional cigarettes in the future.
Regardless of the marketing used around these devices, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and this lack of oversight can potentially put many people at risk for exposure to dangerous chemicals. With varying levels of nicotine, discrepancies in formulation, and the presence of other chemicals, it is impossible for someone to truly know what they are exposing themselves to, making it potentially more harmful than what it is currently represented to be.
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