BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Vaping: A Public Health Crisis



Vape or electronic cigarette, is a device that heats up liquids to create a vapour for inhaling chemicals such as nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs. Inhalation occurs through a mouthpiece into the lungs which is then expelled via the mouth or nose.  There are various types of vaping devices including pens, e-cigarettes and hookahs. Vaping became very popular as one of the smoking cessation tools for people already struggling with nicotine addiction. However, they have not been effective for quitting smoking. Concerns over the health effects of vaping as well as the recent evidence of its harmful effects are on the rise. Research shows sudden spikes in respiratory conditions in vaping populations, as well as the risks and unknown long-term health effects. Consequently, vaping is only recommended for people already smoking as a less harmful, but not a harmless option. Young people and non-smokers are encouraged to avoid vaping because it can lead to nicotine addiction and potentially hinder brain development in teenagers. Additionally, vaping can cause damage to the lungs due to exposure to toxic chemicals and metals such as formaldehyde and nickel respectively. More so, some components of the vaping liquid, such as vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol may be considered safe in cosmetic products but it is still unknown how safe these substances are when inhaled long-term.

 In a survey, only 9% of teenagers wanted to quit or cut down on smoking cigarettes as their main motivation for vaping compared to about 30% for youths. The problem here is that a very large proportion of a very sensitive part of the population is engaging in vaping for the wrong reasons with the assumption that it is harmless. The idea of nicotine replacement or substitution have been around for a while in the fight against nicotine addiction. It is important to reconsider and reassess whether or not vaping is the best solution in this case. E-cigarettes contain many chemicals already known to cause injury to the respiratory system. These problems have been lumped together under the term ‘e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI)’. Several cases of these conditions and even deaths have been reported in many countries with vaping products. There is also increased risk of heart diseases such as hypertension and stroke.

Further, there is a growing concern that vaping products could also be as addictive as conventional cigarettes since they contain nicotine. Sometimes, e-cigarette users get even more nicotine than they would from a combustible tobacco product. Also, e-cigarettes is bad for dental health and has been linked to increased incidence of mouth or gum diseases in users. Other side effects include: cough, dizziness, dry/sore mouth and throat, headache, nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sleepiness, eye irritation, weakened taste and burning or scratchy feeling in mouth, lips and throat.

It is important to create awareness of the health effects of vaping. While research about the long term effects are inconclusive, the composition of vaping products make it hard to believe that they are harmless. For example, several additives like flavours, metals, rubber, silicone, and ceramics found in vaping products are listed in the FDA’s list of Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents in Tobacco Products. 

Finally, for individuals who use vaping to help with nicotine addiction, there are several recommendations by the CDC including: not using THC-containing e-cigarettes or vaping products due to higher risk of EVALI, avoiding informal sources, such as friends, family or online dealers to obtain vaping devices and not modifying or adding substances that are not intended by the manufacturer to vaping devices. Additional effective options to help with cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction are nicotine patch or gum.

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