For years, vaping has been promoted as a safer alternative to smoking–or even a way to stop smoking. But as US News puts it, vaping has gone from a less dangerous alternative to traditional cigarettes to a “public health crisis.” We all know that vaping is bad for kids, but there’s increasing evidence it’s harmful to adults, too, with serious health consequences emerging in recent years.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is the most common term for electronic cigarettes–also called vapes or e-cigarettes. The nickname comes from the “vapor” or aerosol e-cigarette users inhale instead of smoke. Some e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes, while others look like high-tech USB devices. Vape liquid contains a long list of harmful ingredients.
- Most vapes contain nicotine–the same harmful chemical found in traditional cigarettes. Others deliver cannabis products instead.
- Vapes come in a range of flavors, designed in part to attract younger users. Flavorings include harmful chemicals like diacetyl, which gives a buttery taste to popcorn, candy and other products and has been linked to severe lung disease.
- Some e-cigarettes also contain Vitamin E Acetate, a thickening agent associated with lung damage.
- Ultrafine particle pollutants have also been found in the lungs of vape users.
- Vape liquid contains known carcinogens like nitrosamines and heavy metals, including nickel, tin and lead from heating coils.
What Are the Dangers of Vaping?
As vaping rises in popularity, we learn more about the dangers associated with inhaling e-cigarette aerosols.
- In 2019, doctors identified a new vaping-related lung injury, with epidemic levels of patients reporting respiratory illness related to vaping. The CDC labeled this new condition as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).
- Studies from the American College of Cardiology indicate that e-cigarette users were one-third more likely to have a stroke and more than 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack than non-vapers.
- Nicotine is dangerous for fetuses–both in cigarette and e-cigarette form.
- Vaping has oral health dangers, including an increased risk of oral cancer, damage to gum tissue and tooth decay caused by sweeteners in vape liquid.
- Because of the battery and heating element, vaping devices have been linked to fires and explosions, causing severe injuries.
Why Do People Vape?
For years, the tobacco industry promoted e-cigarettes as a “safer” alternative to cigarettes for adults. The CDC says vaping is still less dangerous than smoking. However, vapes are not an accepted tool for quitting smoking. In the case of teens and young adults, peer pressure and marketing play significant roles, with the range of sweet and fruity flavors appealing to young people.
Can E-Cigarettes Help Me Quit Smoking?
The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking aid. One CDC study found that while many adults start vaping to wean themselves from cigarettes, it often doesn’t work. Smokers often wind up using both vapes and traditional cigarettes. Your primary care provider can help you find much better alternatives for smoking cessation. Options include:
- Mental health counseling
- Antidepressants and other medications
At Comprehensive Primary Care, helping patients quit smoking is part of our holistic approach to preventive healthcare. Quitting smoking plays a significant role in preventing and managing chronic illness. We work to use every tool in our toolbox to help patients quit–from medications to nicotine replacement to mental health screening and referrals. A solid support system is vital to quitting smoking or vaping. CPC providers are pleased to offer that support for patients around the DMV region.