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What Are the Facts About Vaping?

July 24, 2020
Published in: Mental Health, Primary Care

Close-up of man vaping

This relatively new industry is worth billions and deserves a second look into what it means for your health. Are these products safe to use? Are they better than cigarettes? Let’s take a look at some of the myths and facts.

It’s just a harmless vapor

False. Vaping might sound a lot like water vapor, but the similarity stops there. Vape pens, e-cigarettes, Juuls, and other similar products typically still contain nicotine along with other flavors and additives. E-cigarettes heat a liquid mix of flavorings and nicotine into an aerosol form for the user to inhale. It may not be smoke, but that doesn’t mean it’s good to breathe. The long-term effects of these mixtures are not entirely known, especially for heavy users.

It’s safer than cigarettes

False. Although traditional cigarettes are known to be more destructive to your health than an e-cigarette, the long-term effect of nicotine aerosols are not yet fully understood. While in some cases vapes could be used as an aid for quitting smoking, they can also become a substitute for actually quitting, or worse, draw in new ‘smokers’ who don’t realize vaping is still harmful.This is especially a problem for young people since nicotine use does extra damage to still-developing brains. The form in which nicotine is inhaled doesn’t decrease its addictive qualities, and the other additives found in e-cigarettes aren’t healthy either. Youth who use e-cigarettes and similar products may also be more likely in the future to smoke traditional cigarettes or other substances.

Other drugs can be put in e-cigs

True. Some vape users modify or swap their e-cigarette liquids out for substances like marijuana or the derivative substance THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is especially dangerous. Modifying inhalants or buying them from illicit vendors means no drug safety measures. Recently, the FDA and CDC have reported a concerning outbreak of severe vape-related lung damage. Although the exact ingredients causing the damage have not been identified, many of the patients had used modified THC vapes. The FDA has released statements strongly urging the general public to avoid vapes that have been tampered with or spiked with cannabinoids.

Vaping has enticed a lot of teens

True. Although it’s often marketed as an alternative nicotine source to help smokers of traditional cigarettes quit, vaping has actually hooked a large number of new non-smokers. Vapes, e-cigarettes, and similar devices have colors and flavors attractive to kids and teens, and the idea that it’s ‘less harmful’ than cigarettes misleads middle schoolers and high schoolers into thinking it’s safe. The US Surgeon General reports that e-cigarettes have been the most-used nicotine product among teens since 2014, and that approximately 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students use e-cigarettes (as of 2018). Although previously smoking had declined dramatically in American youth, vaping has in some ways replaced it.

At Augusta Health, we care about your lung and behavioral health. If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one, learn more about our Behavioral Health services or schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.