Despite first surfacing sometime in the early noughties, it's only recently that vaping has become so popular. These days, the pages of Instagram are littered with teens and their friends blowing colored plumes of flavored smoke. It's not just about ditching traditional cigarettes but making a fashion statement. However, since vaping is a modern phenomenon, we still don't know how the long-term effect it can have on health. In recent months, an outbreak of vaping related illnesses has called into question the safety of the trend, so what exactly should you be worried about - if anything? Let's take a look.
Many still contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug.
Although switching from cigarettes to vaping can be a positive step in terms of ditching the habit for good, you're only getting rid of some of the harmful substances. While it's great to not ingest tar, a lot of e-cigarettes still contain nicotine. Nicotine by itself is a highly addictive substance that comes with its own set of harmful side effects and potential risks. Vaping certainly contains less than the 7,000 chemicals that are found in cigarettes though, so for those using it as a stepping stone to quitting, it may be a useful short-term proxy.
Vaping can lead to other things
As we've previously touched upon, vaping is especially popular among the younger generations. In fact, according to Hopkins Medicine, a 2015 study found that the use of e-cigarettes had increased in schools by up to 900%, with 40% of vaping teens admitting they had never smoked normal tobacco. While this may seem like a positive statistic, vaping can actually encourage those who would never have smoked otherwise to take it up. Flavored cartridges, the lack of awful smelling smoke, and the cheap cost are all lucrative trappings for teens. So, instead of smokers ditching the sticks for the electronic version, quite often it's the other way around.
Cartridges can contain toxic chemicals found in glue and paint
Researchers have found that ingredients in some e-cigarette aerosols can be traced back to glue or paint. Dr. Jason Robinson said when speaking to MD Anderson Cancer Center, “The biggest problem is that we don’t know exactly what goes into all the flavorings, and there are thousands of them." According to Robinson and other experts, it could take two decades to know exactly how vaping affects health.
The liquids and devices themselves can be dangerous
It's not just the act of vaping itself that can be harmful, but the equipment. E-cigarettes are battery-operated and like most things of that nature, they have been known to explode. If the fluid comes into contact with eyes or skin, it can be poisonous. Accidentally drinking it can also pose some serious risks. Needless to say, the idea of anything exploding in direct physical proximity is worrying enough, without it being something put into the mouth.
THC vape oil poses its own unique set of dangers
It didn't take long for the marijuana market to jump on board the vaping train. Many people with longterm illnesses find that vaping THC can help them - especially as it cuts out the harmful toxins ingested when mixing with tobacco and isn't as harsh as smoking it alone. Not only that, but it's discreet. With that being said, it's still a drug and that means its widely available on the streets. Teenagers especially are susceptible to buying cartridges that have been mixed with other substances that aren't safe to take. One of the individuals that fell prey to the recent bout of vaping illnesses admitted that he bought a cartridge from a friend, but it was an odd color compared to other THC vape oils he had seen before. Despite his reservations, the 26-year-old vaped it anyway and almost lost his life as a result.
What's the verdict?
Dr. Robinson sums up the overall consensus on the subject in his closing statement to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. “If you’re not already dependent on nicotine, why take the risk of becoming addicted and damaging your health?” he says. “If you are dependent on nicotine, you are much better off using safe cessation tools that are proven to be effective to curb your cravings and get off tobacco products.”