Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor with way of a vape pen or electronic cigarette. Ecigs are commonly referred to as ENDS or electronic nicotine delivery systems. Vape pens and e-cigs both allow an individual to receive nicotine without using tobacco based products. Many individuals who simply enjoy the habit may use e-liquids that do not contain any nicotine whatsoever. Most e-cig cartridges contain some degree of nicotine and, for that reason, carry a warning label by the Surgeon General of the United States.
What Is Vaping? *
Vaping originally started as a way for smokers to break their nicotine habit. With the use of e-cigs; smokers could gradually reduce the amount of nicotine they consumed and wean themselves off of cigarettes. As the amount of nicotine dependence was reduced, they would be able to eventually also stop using the e-cigs. The contrary seems to be happening, however. Many people have discovered they can still enjoy their “habit” without the risk of dangerous side effects. This is not necessarily true, but there are few studies at this time to change the consumers’ minds.
Does It Really Help People Stop Smoking? *
The first e-cig was created in China in 2002 by a pharmacist who believed the device would be able to help smokers break the unhealthy habit. When vape pens entered the marketplace a few years later, manufacturers took it a step further. Vape pens used flavored e-liquids that could be purchased with or without nicotine. While both were intended to be used as smoking cessation devices, it is becoming apparent that many people are using vape pens simply for the habit. Because they can be used where cigarettes cannot, they are much more convenient. It is also possible that because of their convenience, people may be using them more without realizing it.
Vape pens and the e-liquids used in them are not regulated by the FDA and they can readily find their way into the hands of minors. It is estimated that over 250,000 American teenagers use vape pens on a regular base. Many of these young people have never smoked a cigarette. It is not hard to purchase e-liquids (with nicotine or without). They can be ordered online or purchased by older friends and family members.
What Are the Side Effects of Vaping? *
The fact is vaping causes many of the same side effects as cigarette smoking. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Itchy, puffy eyes
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Caffeine sensitivity
- Rash and burning sensation around the mouth and nose
While many believe that vaping is safer than regular cigarette smoking, the fact that there are over 7,000 unique and unregulated flavors of e-liquids should give rise to caution. It’s true that cigarette smoke contains upwards of 4,000 individual chemicals and up to 7,000 toxic chemical reactions when lit, but neither can be guaranteed safer than the other. More studies need to be done to determine just what kind of issues will be caused by long term use of ecigs and vape pens.
The fact is that inhaling vapor or smoke of any kind can damage the lungs and other tissues in the upper respiratory tract. While it is known what chemicals and contaminants are contained in cigarette smoke and other tobacco products, there is little to no regulation when it comes to what ingredients are allowed in e-liquids. This ability to include a wide array of chemicals and flavorings can be extremely dangerous.
It is extremely important that if a person tries a vape pen and experiences any type of side effect or allergic reaction, they should stop using the product immediately and seek the advice of a medical professional. An asthma attack or anaphylactic reaction can quickly close an airway and prevent the person from breathing properly. If left untreated, this can create a variety of health problems and in severe cases, may even result in death.
Is Vaping Safer than Smoking? *
Many people believe that vape pens should be just as strictly regulated as regular tobacco products. E-liquids are often formulated in vape shops and sold without ever being tested or approved for human use. Many people have learned to adapt their vape pens to be able to use various recreational drugs. Even though the vapor produced in vape pens may be water vapor, it has the potential to cause damage to a person’s lungs and general health, just like regular cigarettes.
The long term use of cigarettes and other tobacco products has been proven to lead to any number of chronic illnesses including:
- Chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, decreased circulation and congestive heart failure
- Complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, poor circulation, the possible amputation of extremities and reduced kidney function
- Cerebral stroke caused by restricted blood flow to the brain and oxygen deprivation
- Depressed immune system
- An increase in the risk of all types of cancers, including colorectal, kidney, stomach, lung and reproductive cancers
One of the biggest questions concerning the safety of vape pens has to do with the use of e-liquids that contain nicotine. People who use vaping pens as a way of ingesting nicotine face the same types of chronic illnesses as those who continue to smoke conventional, tobacco cigarettes and use other types of tobacco products. When used correctly and for the original purpose for which they were intended, vape pens may be safer than the alternative. They do, however, still impose specific risks that should be carefully addressed.
What Are the Other Potential Dangers? *
Vaping pens pose a variety of dangers. In recent years, there has been an increase in the reports of e-cigs or vape pens exploding. Some have exploded while they were being used, while others have blown up while being attached to their charger. Misusing the device or using a charger that was not designed for a particular vape pen may be part of the problem. It is extremely important that the device be used only for the purpose for which it was intended and only charge it with the charging unit that it came with.
Another potential danger comes with the misuse of nicotine e-liquids. Many devices have an adjustable mechanism that allows for more nicotine to be released as the temperature is increased. Increasing the amount of nicotine can be dangerous if you are using the e-cig or vape pen frequently. If too much nicotine is used, it can lead to rapid heart rate, chest pains, headaches and other side effects. Carefully monitor your use and always use your device in moderation.
Is Vaping As Addictive As Smoking? *
Many studies are showing that vaping is just as addictive as smoking. With teenagers who have never smoked a cigarette before, but are now beginning to use vape pens, addiction can occur much more quickly. It is believed that the effect of nicotine on a teenager’s still developing brain can cause them to become addicted much quicker than an adult. If a product contains nicotine, there is a chance of addiction.
For adults who have smoked for several years, the addiction may turn from one where the person relies on the nicotine, to a habit that is simply convenient. One of the hardest parts of breaking the cigarette habit is having something to do with a person’s hands. The convenience of vaping allows the person to continually be doing something with their hands without fear of worrying about nicotine consumption. Because vaping pens emit a thin vapor and not actual smoke, they are allowed in many places where cigarettes are not. This, in and of itself, could lead to excessive use.
While vaping is increasing in popularity, it is important to remember that there is still a lot that is still unknown concerning its long term use. As time goes on and more studies are performed, many more important questions will be answered as it pertains to the safety of vaping pens and their long term side effects. Future regulation may also play a significant role in how e-liquids are created and manufactured, as well as who has access to them.