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What to know about Vaping

Vaping is not a healthier alternative to smoking. It is especially harmful for young adults whose brains have not fully developed. Though it’s a popular alternative to smoking, many of the risks are the same – and the activity comes with several additional risks of its own.

Vapes are also often marketed not just to adults, but minors as well. With flavors like sour candy, crème brûlée, or bubble gum, the devices have become popular with people of all ages, regardless of gender. Health professionals nationwide have recently come out with warnings about vaping, citing health concerns that have appeared since the advent of the activity which have been directly tied to vaping.

E-cigarettes are called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Others look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items. E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to the user via an inhaled aerosol.  

No. There were a number of inaccurate health claims made when vaping was first popularized. For example, people suggested that if young adults vaped, they would smoke cigarettes less. We now know that this is false. In fact, research has shown that young people who vape are more likely to use two or more tobacco products (e.g. vape and cigarettes, vape and dip).  Further, the majority of e-cigarette users also use burned tobacco products. The more type of tobacco products a person uses, the greater their risk is for addiction and tobacco-related harm.  A recent report suggests that e-cigarette use increases the frequency and intensity of cigarette smoking in the future.  So young people who vape are more likely to become addicted smokers.

Some things to know about vaping:  

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
  • Vape manufacturers may be able to pack more nicotine into their products by creating “nicotine salts,” which may and lead the drug to be absorbed by the body quicker 
  • Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent and adult brain. The brain keeps developing until about age 25. Nicotine changes the way synapses (brain connections) are formed.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence and early adulthood can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.
  • Despite evidence that second hand vape contains toxins, there are no laws preventing or restricting where you can use e-cigarettes. Some places, such as some sports stadiums and most airports, do not allow vaping while others do. If you must vape and there is no signage, ask if it is permitted. Also, be mindful of those around you and avoid exposing them to your vape.  

Scientists are still investigating the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. The aerosol from e-cigarettes contain potentially harmful chemicals, not just nicotine. Some of these dangerous compounds include ultra fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to lung disease); volatile organic compounds such as benzene; and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead. Additionally, recent studies have suggested E-cigarette flavors can damage the cells that line your blood vessels and perhaps your heart health down the line.  Further vaping has been linked to long term debilitating lung disease and seizures.

Another risk to consider involves defective e-cigarette batteries that have been linked to fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. Most of the explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged. 

The best way to prevent the effects of vaping is to avoid it in the first place.  This can be very tough if friends around you smoke and offer it to you.  To prepare for these situations, think about the reasons why you choose not to vape and have a response ready when offered. 

If you have started smoking and want to quit, many resources are available to you including support groups in schools and hospitals and resources that can be found on the internet.  

At Legacy, our primary care doctors, behavior specialists in clinic, and pharmacists are available to counsel individuals into a personalized smoking cessation program to help kick the habit.   

Talk to your provider or a Legacy pharmacist if you want to quit smoking or vaping.  There’s no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed.  These are experts that want to help you create a plan that works for you.