If You Think Your Vape Is Better for You Than Cigarettes, Think Again

Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, but is it negatively impacting your health?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has walked into a huge cloud of white smoke while trying to get to class. Vaping is the newest epidemic that has swept the nation and has everybody taking puffs of Juuls and other vaping devices, all with their own e cig mod designs.

Everywhere you go, you’re more than likely to see someone pulling out a vaping device. Vaping, the usage of electronic cigarettes, has taken the world by storm and become a common thing, especially among college-aged people.

Vaping isn’t just popular among college students; surprisingly, over 2 million middle and high schoolers were using e-cigarettes in 2016.

The vaping industry is currently valued at well over $10 billion and is expected to exceed $34 billion in the next 5 years. It’s a well-known fact that smoking traditional cigarettes isn’t exactly the healthiest activity; vaporizing devices were originally created to substitute cigarette addiction however, vaping may not be the healthiest activity either.

Contrary to popular belief, vaping is not risk-free; in fact, it can cause a lot of health issues. A toxicologist at the University of Rochester spoke to young vapors and found that many of them had bleeding mouth and throats.

These bloody sores weren’t quick to heal, with research pointing to vaping causing impaired wound healing. However, that’s not all.

The vapors that stem from vaping devices can inflame mouth cells, thus, in some cases, causing gum disease. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss as the gum damage destroys the tissues that hold your teeth in place. There’s also evidence that vaping can cause lung irritation, which can lead to chronic wheezing and coughing, or bronchitis.

As noted, vaping is very popular among young people and a reason for this is the abundant variety of flavors of electronic cigarettes. With a variety of e liquids to choose from from cherry to apple, these fruity flavors are most definitely intriguing.

Many flavored e-cigarettes contain diacetyl, which is a chemical known to cause severe respiratory disease when it is inhaled. Many of the other chemicals inside your vape have not been tested so it is unclear whether they are safe to inhale. Some believe that some flavors may be safer than others.

“Just because vanilla flavor or crème flavor is okay in your cookies doesn’t mean it’s okay when you heat it and then inhale it,” said Amanda Dickinson, a developmental biologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It seems that it’s a roll of the dice.”

Interestingly, Dickinson conducted a study where she investigated the effects of e-cigarette vapors on tadpole in order to see how a pregnant woman vaping would affect her embryos.

Dickinson saw facial defects in some of the exposed tadpoles; however, she only saw these defects in tadpoles exposed to two of the six flavors tested. The tadpoles still developed clefts when exposed to nicotine-free flavors of the same flavors.

“We observed that very complex e-liquids that mix flavors, such as berries and crème and other food-related flavorings, may have the most dramatic effect on the face,” said Dickinson.

Much of this information is missing from the countless articles that praise vaping as a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. One user even states that vaping is a “godsend” and that smoking organizations should encourage vaping as a way to give up smoking.

Vaping as a way to curb your smoking addiction may be counterproductive, however. Using e-cigarettes that contain nicotine can also be quite addictive. Researchers believe that teenagers that use these devices may be at a higher risk of smoking cigarettes later in life.

Once young people become hooked on the nicotine, they may be more likely to want to use traditional cigarettes, which, of course, can cause cancer. Vaping may also put you at a risk for cancer, however.

Though the smoke from vaporizing devices has fewer carcinogens than tobacco smoke, vaping may also lead to cancer because it leads to DNA damage.

“Although e-cigarette smoke has fewer carcinogens than tobacco smoke, e-cigarette smokers might have a higher risk than non-smokers of developing lung and bladder cancers and heart diseases,” said Moon-shong Tang of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at New York University.

Realistically, I know some of you reading this are going to ignore the stats and pull out your vape pen anyway. But, if you’re in college, you may not be able to vape on campus for much longer.

Numerous colleges around the country are cracking down on smoking on campus and that includes e-cigarettes. Specifically, as of last year, 1,913 colleges were 100 percent smoke-free, with 1,611 being 100 percent tobacco-free and 1,504 banning e-cigarette use.

So, should you start, or continue, vaping? Well, while it may be true that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, they are clearly not harmless.

My recommendation would be not to start vaping and, if you do, try to stop or cut down on your usage. Many of these studies require more investigating.

However, it’s evident that e-cigarettes can be harmful to your health and you don’t want to have to deal with vaping’s negative consequences later on in life.

Cleo-Symone Scott, Virginia Commonwealth University

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Cleo Symone Scott

Virginia Commonwealth University
Political Science


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