With a rapid increase in its popularity, vaping has made it to the list of serious health concerns in the current era. For the past seven years, vapes or e-cigarettes have been the most widely used tobacco products among U.S. youth; an estimated 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students use them.
The best way to curb the popularity of vaping is to educate people on how it affects the mind and body. As a nurse, here are five vaping facts you must know and share with others to prevent the rise of vaping-related health concerns.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is when you inhale vapors into your lungs through an electronic nicotine delivery system.
An electronic handheld device (like a vape pen or an e-cigarette) heats a liquid called vaping juice that contains various chemicals and additives. The vaping juice turns into vapor when heated, which is then inhaled into the lungs through a mouthpiece.
The difference between vaping and smoking is quite evident: smoking involves burning tobacco to turn it into smoke; vaping involves heating liquid to turn it into inhalable vapors.
Five Vaping Facts You Should Know
Most people consider vaping a healthier alternative to smoking or an effective method to quit smoking, but is it actually true? Read on to find out.
Fact 1: Vaping May Be Less Harmful Than Smoking in Some Ways, But Is Still Entirely Unsafe
Many people have switched from traditional cigarettes to vaping products, believing that vaping causes less harm than smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaping exposes people to fewer harmful elements than traditional tobacco products. Vaping products lack tar – the primary element responsible for the presence of most carcinogens in traditional cigarettes are harmful to health.
However, the lack of tar or other harmful chemicals doesn’t make vaping a safer alternative to smoking in every way. Vape pods still contain many other detrimental substances, particularly nicotine, which can lead to severe heart and lung diseases.
Fact 2: Vaping Is Not a Proven Way to Quit Smoking
Many people start vaping just to cut down or quit their smoking habit. But organizations like the Center for Addiction and the Federl Drug Administration (FDA) don’t approve or recommend the use of vapes to reduce or quit smoking. This is because most vape pods contain high amounts of nicotine, even if the labels say they are nicotine-free.
Research from the CDC revealed that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in the assessed areas in the U.S. contained nicotine. Some vape pods even contain as much nicotine as twenty regular cigarettes, which makes them much more addictive. Additionally, getting addicted to nicotine through vaping may also lead non-smokers to start smoking for frequently. Because of this, people who want to stop smoking should try other FDA-certified smoking cessation alternatives.
Fact 3: Even the Vape Pods Without Nicotine Have Multiple Detrimental Health Effects
Nicotine is not the only harmful substance in vape pods or e-liquids.
The base of most e-liquids or vape juices is generally a blend of ingredients like water, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin. Manufacturers add various additives to this blend to create a particular flavor. Although many of these ingredients are approved by the Food and Administration (FDA) for use in food products, they might have extremely harmful effects when heated or vaporized.
According to CDC, the most dangerous substances found in vape aerosol (besides nicotine) may include:
- Diacetyl: This ingredient is known for its buttery flavor, also present in microwavable popcorn. Excess exposure to the vapors of this element puts you at risk of a lung disease called Bronchiolitis Obliterans or “popcorn lung.”
- Formaldehyde: This ingredient is a known carcinogen used in household products and building materials. It increases the risk of cancer for vape users.
- Heavy metals like nickel, lead, and tin
- Other volatile organic compounds that are suspected or proven carcinogens
Conclusively, vape pods claiming to be nicotine-free are still highly damaging to your health.
Fact 4: Vaping is Dangerous for Young Adults
Vaping has become a strong attraction for teens and young adults these days. However, the nicotine in vape products is highly detrimental to the brain development process in adolescents.
The brain forms cellular connections at a rapid pace in the adolescent years, building up the abilities to reason, make decisions, and control emotions. Nicotine can interrupt and interfere with these cellular connections, harming the brain in multiple ways. It can cause problems in later life, like unruly behavior, lack of discipline, and a higher probability of substance abuse.
Fact 5: Some Effects of Vaping Are Still Not Well-Studied and Unpredictable
Vaping hasn’t existed in the market long enough for researchers to study the extent of its effects on the mind and body. This means that vaping might negatively affect a user’s health in many more ways than we currently know of. Health professionals are looking at outbreaks of several new lung diseases possibly associated with the use of e-cigarettes.
An important point to remember is that the vaping industry still lacks proper standardization and regulation. The significant variance in the nature and concentration of nicotine and other toxic substances in vape products increases the health risk of vaping to a much greater extent than expected.
Learn to Address Vaping-Related Health Concerns
As nurses, you have to be on the front line for the prevention and treatment of vaping-related health concerns.This involves educating patients about vaping’s harmful effects, asking them about tobacco use, screening them for e-cigarette or Vaping-Associated Lung Injuries, and more.
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- E-cigarette use among youth and young adults: a report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2016. Accessed January 4, 2022.
- Cullen KA, Ambrose BK, Gentzke AS, Apelberg BJ, Jamal A, King BA. Notes from the field: increase in use of electronic cigarettes and any tobacco product among middle and high school students – United States, 2011-2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(45):1276-1277. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6745a5
- Marynak KL, Gammon DG, Rogers T, Coats EM, Singh T, King BA. Sales of Nicotine-Containing Electronic Cigarette Products: United States, 2015. American Journal of Public Health 2017; 107(5):702-705.
- Willett JG, Bennett M, Hair E.C., et al. Recognition, use and perceptions of JUUL among youth and young adults. Tob Control. 2018. Epub ahead of print.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
- Taylor G, McNeill A, Girling A, et al. Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal 2014;348:g1151.