E-cigarette use, or “vaping,” has become common, but there still seems to be a smoke screen concealing its true impact on health. All the terminology can be pretty confusing, so here’s how it breaks down: A vape (or vaporizer) is any device that heats and aerosolizes a solution that the user can inhale (thus “vaping”). The device heats up various flavorings, nicotine, marijuana, or other potentially harmful substances.
A growing body of evidence shows that vaping, may be even more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. While vaping devices themselves can be harmful in certain situations, the issue is what chemicals are in the liquid that is being vaporized and inhaled, and how they are affecting users.
What’s worse, electronic cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional ones. Vape solutions also often contain nicotine; which research suggests may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. It’s so addictive primarily because it triggers the release of dopamine, which the brain translates as a reward. What’s worse is that many e-cigarette users get even more nicotine than they would from a traditional tobacco product — you can buy extra-strength cartridges, or you can increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to get a greater hit of the substance.
Research Suggests Vaping Is Bad for Your Lungs
Vaping can also paralyze cilia, the “hair-like” projections in the airways of the lungs that remove microbes and debris. When those cilia become paralyzed, they are unable to do their job protecting the lungs, which increases risk of infection like pneumonia. Vaping has also been linked to an “increased risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms,” according to a 2019 research paper.
Symptoms of vaping-related lung injury include:
- Rapid onset of coughing
- Breathing difficulties
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
A New Generation Is Getting Hooked on Nicotine
Among youth, e-cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. Recently, the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900 percent, and 40 percent of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco. More than one in nine high school seniors in the U.S. report vaping daily. Vape cartridges are often formulated with flavorings such as apple pie and watermelon that appeal to younger users. And both youths and adults find the lack of smoke appealing. With no smell, e-cigarettes reduce the stigma associated with smoking.