Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or a similar device. The device allows users to inhale nicotine without the harmful substances that are burnt when a normal cigarette is smoked.
This new trend has swept across the nation, creating a cult-like following with ‘vape’ shops and communities. The appeal of e-cigarettes is that it is branded as a safer alternative to smoking. The safeness, however, of these devices, has recently come under scrutiny. Despite some scare stories slamming these devices, the World Health Organization reports that the effects of smoking e-cigarettes is only marginal and can be seen to be 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. With a much safer alternative the push to encourage smokers to vape is a logical and sound notion. In saying this, it must be noted that the long term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown and only time will tell what the long term health implications of vaping are.
Most of the issues that have come with e-cigarettes relate to the effect that they are having on the younger generation. Young teenagers are using vape pens as they don’t see any consequences in doing so, and in turn are becoming addicted to nicotine. The 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported a 900% increase in high school students using e-cigarettes from 2011 to 2015. Almost 2 million students reported they had smoked an e-cigarette within the previous month of being asked.
This surge has also seen a correlation with increased teen smoking rates. After decades of declining smoking rates among the younger population, the new vaping craze has given rise to increased tobacco smoking. Recent USC data also suggests that there is a large number of teens who vape who wouldn’t have smoked cigarettes before e-cigs were available. Therefore vaping can be seen as a ‘gateway’ to smoking as it normalizes the habit to young, impressionable individuals.
Like most fads, vaping can be abused and e-cigarettes can be used dangerously and recklessly. In one instance, a young boy from Wisconsin attempted to vape alcohol. This resulted in him needing medical attention as he managed to give himself severe alcohol poisoning. These devices have the potential to be dangerous to users if not used correctly, and with how easily accessible they are to minors they could potentially be lethal to experimental teens.
If utilized by individuals wanting to quit smoking, e-cigarettes are a great alternative to avoid the toxic substances released from tobacco smoke. However, the new craze surrounding vaping has gone beyond a healthier alternative to smoking and is encouraging young people who wouldn’t consider smoking to take up a similar, unnecessary habit. Regulations on minors using such devices should be tighter, and on par with measures in place to prevent them smoking normal cigarettes.
By Cerys May