Electronic Cigarettes, or e-cigarettes for short, are the newest fad to come out in the smoking cessation community. Vaporizer, or vape for short, is also a means of electronic smoking and come in more customizable makeups. Sales have grown tremendously over the years, with many concerns surrounding the long-term effects and risk of attracting younger individuals who are not legally able to purchase cigarettes.
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What Are E-Cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are electric inhalers used to inhale an aerosol that can contain nicotine, marijuana, flavorings, and other chemicals.
They can use different amounts of nicotine, while some may not even include nicotine in the liquid at all. There is no traditional smoke involved.
Vaporizers can come in different shapes, sizes, and allow significantly more customization with the device. Vapes can also hold much larger amounts of liquid than smaller electronic cigarettes. These liquid containers can be screwed off, allowing the user to try different flavors, as well as increase and decrease nicotine levels. Some vapes are re-usable. While other vapes, the user will discard once the cartridge is empty.
Pros of Using E-Cigarettes
- Not smoking tobacco
- May help to taper off cigarette addiction
- Has less toxic makeup than cigarettes
- Less nicotine than cigarettes
- Offers similar sensation to smoking cigarettes
- May be more effective than traditional nicotine replacement methods
Cons of Using E-Cigarettes
- Not proven to help stop smoking cigarettes
- Still contain cancer-causing agents
- FDA found a poisonous liquid in some e-cigs that claimed to be additive-free
- Those experimenting with e-cigs may find themselves moving to cigarettes
- Can cause Heart disease, asthma, emphysema, and pregnancy issues
Health Conditions Related to Electronic Cigarettes
The CDC is working closely with the FDA, state, and local governmental and public health agencies in determining the health complications that may correlate with the use of electronic cigarettes. The use of vapes has led to several deaths and emergency room visits. A specific type of lung disease (EVALI) has been researched and strongly correlated to its use.
Vitamin E Acetate has some linkage to the development of EVALI. Additionally, the substance is in some of the THC-related liquid for vapes. Evidence is not enough in ruling out other chemicals as contributors to EVALI. However, further research is continuing.
While deaths and emergency room visits have been on the decline overall since August 2019, due to increased regulation of products, the impact on the lungs remains a consistent and significant concern.
According to the CDC, a total of 2,807 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths have been reported to CDC from all 50 states and US territories, with 68 deaths confirmed in 29 states and the District of Columbia (as of February 18, 2020).
Should I Let My Teenager Vape?
Younger people, commonly those in the teenage or pre-teenage bracket, enjoy using an electronic smoking device due to the flavorings. Peer pressure, availability, and misinformation can be significant factors in the use of these items. Using e-cigs and vapes may be a gateway to smoking cigarettes for this population as they may not be smoking a tobacco cigarette, but they are likely still ingesting nicotine, which is incredibly addictive and has severe health consequences.
Some studies suggest that students that use e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year.
The Current Research
Research so far indicates that vaping is less harmful than a traditional tobacco cigarette for those who regularly smoke when they replace their cigarette use entirely with a vape. Many find this method easier than using nicotine patches or gum, as having the same experience as smoking cigarettes is helpful to many e-cig users.
Despite this, the FDA has not approved the use of electronic cigarettes as an approved quitting aid. Additionally, the user can still have significant damage to someone’s health. Electronic smoking devices remain unproven as a completely effective method of quitting cigarettes. People have been able to quit while using e-cigs and vapes, but have ended up relapsing into cigarettes months, or years, later.
Recent Governmental Regulations
The FDA established a rule for e-cigarettes and their liquid in 2016, years after they first came out in 2008. Because they contain nicotine derived from tobacco, they must comply with governmental regulations as other tobacco products do.
In December 2019, as a response to the alarming increase in underage use of vapes or e-cigs, the federal government raised the legal minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age. Subsequently, in January 2020, the FDA issued a policy surrounding the sale of flavored cartridges. The ability to purchase potentially desirable flavors is nearly eliminated, with many brands only selling tobacco or menthol cartridges.
If you do not currently smoke cigarettes or use electronic smoking devices, do not start. Monitoring and research continue to explore the inherent health impacts of e-cigarettes, and the potential benefits do not always outweigh the risks. If you believe your teenage child is using e-cigs to smoke illicit drugs, contact us to find support and assistance.