Vaping: Not Really Safe Especially for Teens
Sat, April 10, 2021

Vaping: Not Really Safe Especially for Teens

In 2003, Chinese inventor Hon Lik came up with a supposedly “safer” way to get a nicotine fix in the form of an e-cigarette. Thus, modern vaping was born / Photo by: TBEC Review via Wikimedia Commons

 

People have come up with creative ways to get a hit of nicotine for over a hundred years now. In 2003, Chinese inventor Hon Lik came up with a supposedly “safer” way to get a nicotine fix in the form of an e-cigarette. Thus, modern vaping was born. Today, despite the well-established fact that smoking causes lung cancer (and a host of other medical conditions) and the rising cases of vaping lung diseases, people continue to smoke.


A Brief History of Vaping

As early as 220 years ago, doctors had realized how harmful to the human body smoking could be. Dr. Benjamin Rush was one of the first to point this out in 1798, revealing that smoking can cause incurable diseases and cancers. In the 1800s, lip cancer started emerging in most smokers, and by the 1920s almost 1,000 cases had been reported.

Given the realization that smoking was dangerous, the development of an alternative got underway.

In 1927, Joseph Robinson dreamed up what became the very first vaporizer. It was a device meant for medicinal compounds and made it easier to inhale the vapors without the possibility of being burned. In 1963, Herbert Gilbert designed a smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette, but this did not materialize because there were no manufacturers capable of producing it. In the 1980s, Jed Rose, inventor of the nicotine patch, experimented with distilled smoke. In the 2000s, the volcano vaporizer was invented but was mostly used for those other than tobacco. It was in 2003 when Chinese smoker and pharmacist Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette. He believed that mimicking the smoke from a cigarette would do the trick. In 2006, vaping was introduced in Europe and made its way to the United States and the rest of the world.

What Does Vaping Do?

Vaping is the act of using an electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cig or e-cigarette, and was initially introduced as a cleaner alternative to smoking because it was supposed to be nicotine-free as it didn’t burn tobacco. The vape contains a mix of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin called PG-VG, which according to financial news website Insider, vaporizes and delivers drugs along with chosen flavors. It works by heating a liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled. This vapor, despite the device’s original design, often contains nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals such as marijuana, hash oils, and even other substances.

Vaping is the act of using an electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cig or e-cigarette, and was initially introduced as a cleaner alternative to smoking because it was supposed to be nicotine-free as it didn’t burn tobacco / Photo by: Max Pixel

 


Generation of Vapers

A survey found that the number of American teens who have tried vaping has increased significantly, suggesting that nicotine users have also increased among this demographic, according to an article posted on News In Health, a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health.

Vaping, like other nicotine-induced products, can pose serious health concerns as well as long-term addiction and harm to a young person’s brain development. The vapor oftentimes is not clean and can contain toxins that are harmful when breathed in and can cause cancer. In an annual survey of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in 2018 wherein more than 44,000 students took part, the results showed that 37% of 12th graders reported vaping in 2018 versus 28% of them in 2017. Among the surveyed, 13.2% said they were smoking nicotine in their e-cigs, 5.8% said they were smoking marijuana, 66.0% said they were smoking just flavoring, and 13.7% said they did not know. The researchers shared that manufacturers don’t have to report e-cig ingredients, and so users don’t know the content of the liquid they are smoking.

Dr. Richard Miech, who led the study at the University of Michigan, explained that vaping is reversing that hard-fought decline among the number of adolescents who use nicotine.

According to the study by NIH, teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes with a 3.6% to 9.5% increase in usage among 8th graders, 6.3% to 14% increase in 10th graders, and 11.4% to 16.2% among 12th graders, all in the span of one month, with twice as many boys using e-cigarettes than girls. Teen e-cig users are also more likely to start smoking combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs.

Too Much Vaping

According to the World Health Organization in 2008, there have been no rigorous peer-reviewed studies that have been conducted showing the safety of an electronic cigarette as replacement therapy for nicotine consumption. Over the past few months, doctors have noted a rise in non-infectious pneumonia in patients who have vaped—lipoid pneumonia when special cells in the lungs fill up with fat. In 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 12 people died across 10 states in the US and 805 reported suffering lung injuries after using e-cigarettes. A multi-state outbreak has led officials to advise the public against vaping, as mentioned in Newsweek, an American weekly news publication. Of the 771 affected individuals, 69% were male, with two-thirds between 18 and 35 years old, and 16% under 18 years. Of these cases, a number have been linked to THC, the psychoactive compound present in cannabis, with 16% of 514 of the affected individuals using nicotine, 77% using THC combined with another substance, and 36% vaping THC exclusively.  

Many are led to believe that e-cigs are nothing more than water vapor. Once the solution that contains vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol are heated, the chemical composition of the aerosol produced becomes different from the original liquid. Dr. J. Taylor Hays, director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, stated that after heating, chemicals such as formaldehyde can be formed and are then inhaled. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that “teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices.”

But, as we are finding out now, it’s urgent that vaping users understand the effects on their overall health, development of the teen brain, and potential for addiction.

A survey found that the number of American teens who have tried vaping has increased significantly, suggesting that nicotine users have also increased among this demographic / Photo by: sarahjohnson1 via Pixabay