Vaping: Devil or angel?
BY CHERYL HARBOUR
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Maybe you’ve seen it once or twice: someone standing on the sidewalk, holding what looks like a pen to their lips, then exhaling what looks like steam. Or maybe you’re much more familiar because someone who’s close to you has tried other methods to stop smoking cigarettes and finally come around to this. It’s called “vaping,” and although it’s not new – it’s new to many of us. It’s become more popular over the past few years and it’s become more controversial, too.
We’ve done our research and here is the short course on vaping, with links to reliable information so you can learn more if you’d like to.
How does vaping work?
Vaping, like smoking cigarettes, is primarily a way to ingest nicotine, one of the most highly addictive substances that exists. Many of the first vaping devices were called “e-cigarettes” and that was their appeal to many people: a substitute for cigarettes.
Vaping devices now come in different sizes and shapes but all work in a similar way way: There is a heating element, powered by a battery, and there is a liquid that contains nicotine. (Vaping devices are also used for cannabis). When the liquid is heated, it vaporizes and can be inhaled.
LEARN MORE in this YouTube video produced by Veppo Vape
How popular is vaping?
Vaping has really taken off in the past five years. One of the concerns is that young people are flocking to it and many of the youngest had not previously smoked regular cigarettes. The FDA released data in late 2018 showing that the use of e-cigarettes is now the most popular tobacco product among teens and has jumped 78 percent among high school students compared with 2017. An estimated 20.8 percent (more than 3 million) of high schoolers now use some kind of vaping device. As a result, you may hear it referred to as a “vaping epidemic.”
One reason vaping is attractive to young people is that devices are easy to disguise or hide – one variety even look like a computer flash drive. Another reason blamed for attracting young people is the appeal of fruity flavors marketed by vaping companies – flavors such as mango, mint, cream, and cucumber.
The marketing and sales of e-liquid has become big business. Similar to razors and razor blades, people get started by purchasing a vaping device and then continuously buy the liquid to use in it.
How big is the vaping business?
Last year, one of the most successful vaping companies — JUUL — sold a 35 percent stake in the company to tobacco giant Altria for $12.8 billion. JUUL is supposedly cooperating with efforts to stop marketing to young people and giving at least verbal support to a bill brought to the Senate that would raise the minimum age for anyone to purchase any smoking or vaping product. This article published by truth initiative.org tells how JUUL is limiting its marketing of flavors. Read More
How healthy is vaping?
You won’t find just one answer to this question. Vaping proponents point out that since nothing is burned, people who vape instead of smoke avoid thousands of toxic chemicals contained in cigarettes. On the other hand, not much is known about the long-term effects of vaping. And some of the chemicals involved in vaping have their own harmful effects. An article on physiciansweekly.com discusses the science of vaping, including studies showing that e-cigarette flavorings may damage blood vessels and the heart, and other chemicals may harm the reproductive system.
Does vaping help people stop smoking?
Not everyone agrees about this either. Several studies showed that people who used vaping to stop smoking were slightly more successful that people who used nicotine patches. Unfortunately, many people who switched to vaping stayed hooked on vaping and remained addicted to nicotine. Here are several articles — from Harvard.edu, from npr.org, and from Johns Hopkins, focusing on whether or not vaping helps people stop smoking.