As you may know, smoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Almost one-third of all deaths from heart disease result from smoking and secondhand smoke. In the last decade, vaping has grown significantly as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Vaping has become popular with people who wish to quit smoking, and with a younger generation that previously had no interest in smoking cigarettes. Much of this is done in the mindset that vaping, or smoking electronic cigarettes, is safer. However, there are some facts you need to know about vaping.
1. Vaping is less damaging than smoking, but it’s still not harmless.
Nicotine is an addictive drug found in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes heat nicotine (extracted from tobacco), flavorings, and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention Study found that 99% of e-cigarettes sold in the U.S. contained nicotine. Even products with labels that didn’t state that the products contained nicotine, and products explicitly saying they didn’t have nicotine were found to contain nicotine.
2. E-cigarettes can contain potentially harmful ingredients.
Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain potentially harmful components, including ultrafine particles inhaled deeply into the lungs, flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to severe lung disease, volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust, and heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead. The Johns Hopkins University research on vape ingredients published in October 2021, reveals thousands of chemical components in vape products, most of which are not yet identified.
3. E-cigarettes are not effective for quitting smoking.
Despite the statement’s prominence in vaping advertisements and public understanding, e-cigarettes are not an effective tool to quit smoking. Instead, many smokers will likely swap one addiction for the other, if not simply keep both. For this reason, the FDA has refused to approve e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device.
4. Nicotine is harmful to the adolescent brain.
The adolescent years are times of critical brain development. Brain development continues through childhood to about age 25. During adolescence and young adulthood, nicotine exposure can cause addiction and harm the developing brain. Using nicotine can affect the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
5. Unknown health effects
The long-term health consequences of vaping are unknown. Recent studies report severe lung damage in people who vape and even some deaths because of the components in vapor. One example is e-cigarette flavorings. Some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat, but not inhale, because the gut has different ways to process substances than the lungs do.