Long Term Effects of Vaping

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Vaping or e-cigarettes seem to be only gaining in popularity nowadays. Many people think it is a safer option than smoking cigarettes, however, is that the truth, or just what we want to believe? As we know is the case with substitute addictions, many people trying to quit smoking will find themselves taking up a vape instead. Vaping even seems to be receiving increased attention even among the youth, and according to the annual Monitoring the Future Study, in 2018, the number of high school seniors reporting that they vaped in the past 30 days nearly doubled since the previous year, from 11% to 21%.

Of course, the consequences of making the switch have yet to be fully explored. Decades of research inform our understanding about the dangers of smoking, although only recently has the attention shifted towards its electronic counterpart. You may wonder: how harmful is vaping? Is it worse than cigarettes? Can I still get addicted? And won’t it help me quit smoking for good? In short, what are the real long term effects of vaping?

Vaping, Is it bad?

This question holds significant importance because there is a perception that vaping has lesser health consequences as compared to traditional cigarettes. This perception has prevailed due to a lack of awareness regarding the dangers of vaping. Although many report that they want to switch to vaping to protect themselves from the toxic substances they’re exposed to while smoking, their conventional cigarette use continues, even after individuals have reportedly made the switch.

While it may be true that there is less exposure to harmful substances inherent in traditional cigarettes, we still don’t know the extent of the chemicals present in e-cigarettes. Continuing to vape means continuing to expose yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe. Some of the chemicals identified in the liquid include formaldehyde, diacetyl, and glycerol that has been shown to agitate lungs and airways. This study in particular focuses on pens that are nicotine-free and yet still dangerous to your health.

Diacetyl, another of the dangerous ingredients identified in the vaping liquid is also known to contribute to a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung”. Symptoms appear in the form of wheezing and difficulty breathing due to the narrowing of airways from scarring. We know about the dangers of Diacetyl because it was a product that once found its use in flavoring food with its buttery taste before researchers recognized the connection between its presence and lung damage, especially when inhaled on a regular basis. Vaping liquid with this substance as an ingredient has been banned on an official level in the UK, although smokers in the U.S. are still at risk.

Consistent exposure to nicotine and other carcinogens through vaping poses dangers to human health. Similar to cigarette use, although a low amount of nicotine is consumed through e-cigarettes, it has been found that vaping is still related to the issues of the heart and lungs; hence, there is a crucial need to take steps to control vaping for the sake of human health. While the long-term effects are still unknown, research suggests that vaping contributes to problems in the following areas:

  •       Irritation of eyes and airways
  •       Respiratory problems
  •       Heart attacks
  •       Reproductive issues
  •       Low birth weight for babies when vaping during pregnancy

Although it would be nice to believe that e-cigarettes could act as a substitute for conventional cigarettes, and present a solution for those trying to quit, the research has continually failed to validate the claims of vaping as a “healthy alternative”.

Those addicted to vaping are actually more likely to become a smoker than the other way around, and those who continue on, do so risking health hazards, and the potential to develop an additional addiction. It’s clear that greater awareness is needed in order to control the message to all people, young and experienced, that vaping and e-cigarettes are not the answer. 

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