Vaping Our Way into a Dead End

Chloe Yang ‘23

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The electronic cigarette craze is taking the world by storm, with the CDC reporting that over nine million adults in the US alone vape regularly. While many claim that vapes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, more studies are emerging to evidence that the e-cig is clearly dangerous in its own right. 


At this point in time, it is unclear what the specific effects vapes can have are on a person’s well being.  E-cigarettes are such a new concept and product that the FDA does not yet know the components and are unsure how to go about regulating them. Currently, there are many conflicting beliefs about the effects of them. The CDC believes that “E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products,” while the FDA warns that vaping is “not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”

However, while there is not much concrete evidence about the long term effects of vapes, there are still an abundance of short term studies against electronic cigarettes. Many underestimate the risks involved, but vaping has already taken the lives of 21 people and has caused over 1,000 injuries. Studies show that the liquid inside of an e-cigarette contains particulates, oxidizing agents, aldehydes, nicotine, and more. When these aerosols are inhaled into the lungs, they can have an incredibly damaging effect to the heart and circulatory system, significantly increasing the user’s heart rate and blood pressure, which could affect heart health over a period of time. This also ends up causing vapers to be more susceptible to heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. 


Despite the plethora of health risks to consider, many young people still continue to vape. Over 3.5 million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes on a daily basis, according to a recent National Youth Tobacco Study. In 2015, the US surgeon general reported that the usage of e-cigs among students in high school had increased by over 900 percent and that at least 40 percent of these users had never even smoked regular tobacco prior to using a vape. Youth vaping is so prevalent today because electronic cigarettes are directed and merchandised primarily towards teenagers. Recently, the company Juul Labs, and many other vape manufacturers, came under scrutiny from the FDA for this reason in September 2018. A big part of e-cig companies’ marketing strategies is creating different pods in kid-friendly flavors, such as mango, watermelon, and creme brulee, thus masking the true dangers of the miniature containers. While it is possible to buy these liquids without nicotine, one Juul pod contains 40mg of nicotine alone, which is almost the same nicotine yield as a normal pack of traditional cigarettes. 


Electronic cigarettes were originally created with the purpose of helping tradidional smokers lower their daily nicotine intake. Nowadays, however, it seems that the opposite is beginning to occur. A Yale study concluded that, among the students at three public schools in Connecticut, those who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke regular cigarettes in the future. When people, teenagers in particular, use a vape, they begin developing a nicotine addiction, which likely leads smoking traditional cigarettes in the future. Additionally, e-cigs have not yet received FDA approval as a smoking cessation device, meaning that they have not fulfilled their original purpose either. A recent study also found that a majority of people who originally intended to use vapes to stop smoking ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and electronic cigarettes.