Vaping is an increasingly common and popular habit. You probably have friends, family members, or acquaintances who vape. Maybe you are vaping or have considered vaping yourself.
Though it may seem like a harmless and trendy thing to do, I encourage you to think again when it comes to vape. It is not as harmless as it seems, but it is actually quite bad for your health.
According to new findings, diacetyl – a chemical found in flavored vape pods – can cause ‘popcorn lung,’ which is an inflammation of your airways that comes with wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.
The condition was nicknamed 20 years when a group of workers at a microwave popcorn factory presented the condition after they inhaled artificial butter flavor. It turned out that their problems were due to their exposure to the chemical diacetyl during inhalation.
In a 2015 study, they found diacetyl in 39 of the 51 chemicals found in e-cigarettes. While the study didn’t prove that these chemicals actually lead to popcorn lung and need further research and attention, the results are quite alarming. (2)
While – based on advertising and marketing – many people may believe that vaping is safe, it turns out the popular habit is addictive, harmful to your health, increasingly common among youth, and cannot actually help you quit smoking, but may lead to dual addiction-instead.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping was introduced to the mass market in 2007 and has been gaining increased popularity ever since.
Vaping refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol, commonly known as vapor, which is a product of e-cigarettes and other similar devices. While cigarettes produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes do not. Instead, they produce an aerosol, which is made out of fine particles. The aerosol is often mistaken for water vapor, hence the commonly known term ‘vaping’ that’s used for the ‘smoking’ of e-cigarettes. Vaping devices include a mouthpiece, and a cartilage with e-liquid, as well as a heating component powered by a battery. The battery heats up this heating component, allowing the e-liquid to create an aerosol that can be inhaled and exhaled when vaping.
While vaping is a trendy and increasingly common habit, you may wonder if it is healthy.
Actually, it is not. The particles that make up aerosol contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to various diseases, including cancer, respiratory conditions, and heart disease. It is better to be educated and empowered before starting or continuing this unhealthy habit.
The Truth Behind Vaping And How It May Harm Your Health
Vaping Is Less Harmful Than Traditional Smoking
The way e-cigarettes work is that they heat the nicotine that was extracted from tobacco with flavorings and other chemicals. When vaping, you inhale the water vapor made by this heating process. A regular tobacco cigarette has 7,000 toxic chemicals in it. While vapes have fewer chemicals than cigarettes, we don’t actually know how much they contain and how many of these are toxic. (3)
Vaping Is Bad for Your Health
Vaping may be less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but it is still bad for your health. Like cigarettes, e-cigarettes still have toxic chemicals. They are also addictive, leading to cravings and withdrawals. They can lead to high blood pressure, increased heart rates, and adrenaline spikes, and may increase the risk of heart attacks. Research has also found that it can harm one’s metabolism, increase the risk of cancer, and cause respiratory problems. It can also lead to asthma. (3, 4, 5)
They Aren’t Declared Safe
E-cigarettes haven’t been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and reviews are actually delayed until 2022. The US Surgeon General’s 2016 reporthas concluded that nicotine is not safe in any form, including vaping e-cigarettes. Many people are not aware of this and believe that it is a safe choice. (6, 7)
Vaping Is Very Addictive
Just like cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine that is very addictive, in fact, it may be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin. It may shock you, but e-cigarettes have more nicotine than tobacco products, and you can even buy extra-strength e-cigarettes with a higher concentration for a bigger hit. (3)
Vaping Doesn’t Help You To Quit Smoking
Though vaping has been being marketed as a way to quit smoking, they haven’t been approved by the FDA as effective smoking cessation tools. According to a 2017 study, vaping doesn’t help people to quit smoking, instead, it creates dual-users. A 2018 study on 850 smokers found that 90 percent of participants were still smoking after an entire year of vaping. Previous studieshave come to the same conclusion that vaping is not a good strategy to quit smoking, neither is it safer than smoking. Alternative therapies and behavioral strategies are still necessary to quit smoking, and in case of a dual addiction or e-cigarette-addiction, to quit vaping as well. (3, 8, 9, 10)
Vaping Is Getting Our Youth Addicted To Nicotine
About 40 years ago, 29 percent of teens were smoking, but by 2015, the numbers reached an all-time low at 5.5 percent. Numbers are similarly low for middle schoolers. This is unfortunately not completely good news. You may see fewer teens smoking than 20 or 30 years ago, however, e-cigarettes are increasingly popular among youth. (11, 12)
The use of e-cigarettes has increased900 percent among high school students in 2015 alone. About 40 percent of the students have never smoked cigarettes or other forms of regular tobacco, but vape regularly. In 2017, 3.3 percent of middle schoolers and 11.7 high schoolers used e-cigarettes regularly, and over 25 percent of high schoolers have vaped. Youth are attracted to the flavors of the vapes. Moreover, 60 percent of students used a specific brand of e-cigarettes (Juul) that was believed to be completely nicotine-free and safe. (3, 12, 13, 14)
Why People Vape?
The variety of flavored vaping cartilages may be more enticing to youth and to those who would stay away from smoking otherwise. (13)
Vaping costs less than smoking cigarettes, hence why it may be more available to youth and may be more attractive to those who are watching their budget.
Due to false advertising as a healthier alternative, people may not know how harmful vaping can be. Since vaping is advertised as a habit that can help someone to quit smoking, one may purposely choose to get into vaping without ever kicking their nicotine habit or quitting smoking. These people may blame themselves, while it may be the product that is keeping them hooked in an addictive place without helping them to quit smoking.
Lastly, smoking has an increasing amount of stigma around it. Many people don’t like the smell. Without the smell and thanks to fun flavors and great ads, it can be quite appealing and trendy to some. It is concerning that as a result vaping is becoming popular even among those who otherwise would’ve never smoked tobacco.
How To Quit Smoking Or Vaping
If you are a smoker, a vaper, or both, please, know that you don’t have to continue with this unhealthy habit and be wrapped up in your addiction. You can quit.
Here are some strategies that can help: (15, 16)
- Know your reason for quitting.
- Talk to your doctor.
- Make a plan.
- Build a social support system through family, friends, support groups, online, or professional support.
- Seek professional support from a therapist, counselor, coach, or doctor.
- Practice self-compassion, self-care, and self-love.
- Take on positive hobbies and activities, such as journaling, dancing, exercise, yoga, meditation, and reading.
- Spend time in nature and connect with yourself.
- Understand it takes time. Only 4 – 7 percent of people succeed quitting cold turkey. Most benefit from a gradual approach that may come with ups and downs.
- Create a strategy on how to fight urges, withdrawal.
- Have a strategy in case you smoke or vape again. Don’t blame yourself. Stand up, move on, and keep going.
Tips To Talk To Youth Before They Start Smoking Or Vaping
Prevention is the best practice. It is never too early to start. These strategies can help to educate youth and discourage them from vaping or smoking. These strategies can work for adults too.
- Educate yourself and get the facts straight about these products.
- Be a role model. Don’t smoke or vape, or if you do, make an effort to quit. Set a tone with your actions.
- Create a safe environment for your kids where they can share and talk about their feelings without fear of judgment.
- Listen to them without judgment and with compassion.
- Give them reading materials that they can review on their own and you can discuss together.
- Help them with strategies on how to handle peer pressures and difficult situations. Create a plan and build confidence in them.
- Empower them to stand up to their peers and not give into peer pressure.
- Trust them. Love them.
As you can see, vaping may be a popular habit, it is far from safe or healthy. It can lead to health issues, addiction, and instead of helping you to quit smoking it can create dual addiction to both smoking and vaping. Vaping is increasingly popular among youth, including middle and high school students. As parents, teachers, and adults around children and youth, it is important to be good role models, talk to them, listen to them, educate them, and empower them to prevent them from smoking or vaping. However, if you or someone you know is vaping and/or smoking, it is never to late to quit. It takes work and time, but quitting is possible for you too. Quit or don’t start for your physical and mental health.