While the rate of cigarette use has greatly decreased in recent years, it seems that a different tobacco product has taken its place. Vaping, or the administration of nicotine through an e-cigarette device, has become increasingly popular, especially with teens and young adults.
According to the Office on Smoking and Health, in 2013, there were three times as many high school cigarette smokers than vapers. However, by 2015, 2.39 million high schoolers vaped, which was nearly double the number of smokers.
So what has caused this large rise in vaping? One of the reasons is likely accessibility. A study by the University of California, Irvine involving 120 U.S. online stores showed that minors were able to obtain e-liquids from 116 of the 120 stores.
Another possible cause for the rise in vaping is marketing. Many e-liquids come in “kid-friendly” flavors like gummy bear, bubble gum, and cotton candy. Some purchased e-liquids even arrive with small toys or candy.
It is also becoming increasingly easier to get away with vaping. New e-cigarette devices are inconspicuous and can be easily hidden in the palm of the hand or in a pocket. These devices are so easily hidden that some students even vape during class or on campuses across the nation.
The e-cigarette device known as the Juul has become especially popular amongst teens. Reminiscent of a USB device, the Juul does not look anything like a cigarette or any tobacco product, so it is no surprise that teens are able to sneak these past unknowing adults. The vapor puffs that the product produces dissipate quickly and do not produce a strong smell like a cigarette would.
However, many teens are unaware of the potential dangers that e-cigarettes pose. Nicotine, of course, is a toxic substance. Just 60 milligrams of nicotine in its pure form can kill a person. While it is difficult to overdose through vaping, spilling e-liquids on bare skin can result in a nicotine overdose.
While most people believe that vaping is harmless to the lungs, this is not the case. Though vaping does not cause the lungs to tar, nicotine causes inflammation of the lungs and also reduces the lung tissue’s ability to act as a barrier to foreign substances. Even vaping without nicotine can be harmful to the lungs. E-cigarettes also contain lithium-ion batteries that have been known to explode, causing 3rd-degree burns.
While e-cigarettes are technically not as bad for you as traditional cigarettes, this doesn’t make them safe for use. They are intended for those 18 and older and should thus be used by that demographic.