While a lot of people turned to e-cigarettes in the hopes of avoiding cancer and heart risks, research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science believes that vaping is far from benign.
Electronic cigarettes were first introduced commercially back in 2008. They have continued to gain popularity in recent years.
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What is Vaping and How Did it Become So Popular?
Vape is another term for electronic nicotine delivery, personal vaporizers, or electronic cigarettes. It is the practice of inhaling the vapor from e-liquid through a vaporizer. To vape, one needs the atomizer, e-liquid, inhaler piece, and the battery.
E-cigs are battery-powered devices that contain nicotine mixed with glycerin and propylene glycol and different types of flavorings. The liquid is then heated into a vapor that one can inhale.
Electronic cigarettes were introduced to help traditional smokers quit. Vaping eliminates the lingering scent of cigarettes and conventional chemicals and toxins found in cigarettes. Nonetheless, research now indicates that e-cigs could be as harmful as conventional cigarettes. Vaping has become increasingly popular, thanks to the exotic liquid flavors and new portable devices. The vaping industry is estimated to be about $4 billion, and people are now competing to see who can blow the most smoke. Quit Smoking Community, one of the biggest quit smoking organizations, supports vaping as and what it does to help smoker’s switch their nicotine intake.
Studies on Vaping Addiction
The Penn State College of Medicine conducted a study back in 2014, where researchers assessed the addictive nature of e-cigs. They used an online survey where they interviewed ex-smokers who are current vapers. The respondents reported that they smoked an average of 24 cigarettes daily and had 24 vape sessions regularly.
The addiction is the same, but vaping was found to influence more psychological and behavioral changes. Few reported waking up at night for a nicotine fix while other e-cig users had to wait longer for their first vape of the day. Additionally, the majority of participants admit that they had fewer cravings for e-cigs compared to their former cravings for cigarettes. Most also felt less irritable compared to how they felt when they couldn’t smoke.
The difference in addiction was attributed to how e-cigs are used. When a person smokes, one does it in one go and usually finish the entire cigarette, while vaping means that one takes 2-3 puffs, wait for 15 minutes, and then has another puff.
Concerns Over Vaporized Substances
Although manufacturers suggest that vaping only allows one to breathe harmless vapor and nicotine, The National Institute of Health is now investigating the effects of glycerin and propylene glycol. The World Health Organization banned the use of vaporizers indoors. Studies conducted also suggest that when the liquids are heated, they release higher levels of formaldehyde as compared to a regular cigarette. Furthermore, people are now hacking their devices to allow the greater release of nicotine and heat.
Dangers of Vaping
Although vaping lacks cancer-causing elements found in conventional smoking, studies now show that this practice could be harmful to one’s immune system. It’s been shown that vaping inhibits the function of 358 genes associated with infection-fighting in comparison to smoking, which only inhibits 53 genes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California showed that 13% of high school students either vaped or smoked in 2014, while 9% smoked in 2014. This indicates that more people find vaping to be more attractive compared to cigarette smoking.
Additionally, reports in the Journal Addiction shows that vaping side effects are limited to mouth and throat irritation. 2% of the correspondents reported an increase in blood pressure.
Although e-liquid and vaping pens lack the same toxins found in regular cigarettes, the truth is that they still contain nicotine, a substance that can be addictive, not to mention that it also causes symptoms of withdrawing (especially if nicotine is ingested in high amounts, which can be the case when people use devices called box mods, that produce high volumes of vapor). Such symptoms include anxiety, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and more. CDC is quoted as saying that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine, alcohol, and heroin.
Adverse Health Effects of Vaping
- Inflamed lungs
- Irregular heartbeats associated with high blood pressure
- Fainting and dizziness
- Reduced immunity
Another common concern among health officials and law enforcement is that more people are now using vaporizers to ingest synthetic drugs, flakka, and other marijuana-related compounds. Given the freedom of vaping in public places, people are taking advantage of and using these drugs in open areas.
When an individual begins to vape, they quickly become addicted to the nicotine, which makes it hard to quit. This is difficult, especially if the devices have been altered for higher delivery of nicotine. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include depression, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, insomnia, and weight gain.
The safety of vaping has not been truly established, while some studies suggest that vaping may not have the same effects of smoking like respiratory effects or cardiovascular problems, it’s still unclear the exact effects associated with frequent vaping.