Breathe in at Your Own Risk
By Electra Blake
Have you ever been scared to breathe? Some people are, but who are those people? Those who now smoke may surprise you. Smokers can be considered anyone who smokes a cigar, cigarette, or what is currently called an E-cig or “vaping” (CDC.gov). People who use any of these methods of smoking can suffer from serious and health-destroying long-term effects that can include: damaging “nearly every organ of the body”; degrading overall health; mouth sores; the inability to breathe well due to damaged lungs; and even death (MayoClinicStaff). Vaping is the newest form of smoking that is considered “non-smoking”, since it does not release actual smoke from its use (Blaha). Vaping may appear, smell, taste, and act differently than traditional cigarettes, however it is still not just dangerous and harmful, but appealing to its growing number of fans – young children under the age of 18 and vaping needs to be controlled now (Blaha). “Four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product,” and many “kids report vaping as early as 12 years old.” (FlavorsHookKids).
What really is vaping? E-cigarettes, or vaping as it is more recently called, is the term for using cigarettes that do not require smoke or burning to use. “E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol or mix of small particles in the air...” (CDC Quick Facts). Vaping is a way to take tobacco and other chemicals, and then use a “heating element”, such as a battery, to create a vapor (making water into a gas form by heat), and then inhaling that vapor. This causes a “buzz” or what is also known as “getting high”, which means using a substance to increase the adrenaline in the body that causes an artificial feeling of being very awake and energetic (Felman). The problem with this is, that it creates “ups”, but also dramatic “downs”. This is the feeling of being happy or alert then very sad or tired in a very short time and without doing something that uses a great deal of energy (such as performing ballet at a recital). It is not natural. This feeling can create agitation, aggressiveness, restlessness, difficulty focusing, an overall feeling of exhaustion, and “can permanently damage the teen brain” (StillBlowingSmoke).
Vaping tricks young children since it does not resemble a cigarette or cigar and can fool the senses. How? Since it is a vapor tube, it can look like many things: lipstick tubes, pens, mascara wands, pencil cases, PEZ candy dispensers, and more (Vapepensales). Vaping uses vapor so it has no smoke or burning; the taste is often disguised with flavors like apple or berry; the touch is wrapper free and has sleek packaging (FlavorsHookKids). Vaping can be inexpensive (vapes.com sells starter kits for as low as $6.99), and the messages about vaping are not clear in the media since it was originally promoted as a way to stop smoking regular cigarettes (Blaha). The worst trick is that many sites actually teach HOW to secretly vape, called stealth vaping, in places where smoking or vaping is banned such as: airplanes, government areas, hospitals, or schools (Mann).
While vaping seems easy and different from cigarettes or cigars, it can be just as bad, or worse. Vaping was supposed to help people quit smoking. It was designed to be smoke free, able to be used in areas that prohibit smoking, and have fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes since “regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic” (Blaha). While this is found to be true, ask yourself this question, if there are 7,000 or 100, do you want ANY of those chemicals that can be avoided? One of the most addictive chemicals in traditional smokes and E-cigarettes is nicotine, “which research suggests may be as addictive as heroin or cocaine” (Blaha). Some have even found that vaping may provide more nicotine or other additives since there are no clear laws for what makes the liquid that goes in a vape tool (StillBlowingSmoke). The FDA started regulating vaping in 2016, however it is easy to buy online with no problem. In fact, while researching this article, I found three websites that allowed me to purchase vape sets if I clicked a tab that said I was old enough to, but never asked me for any identification numbers or proof. The scariest thing of all is that some teens are now using BOTH cigarettes when they are able or vaping when they need to hide it from others. This increases the risk of health issues including: emphysema, heart disease or stroke, lung cancer, oral or esophageal cancer, Chronic Pulmonary Disease, stomach or bladder cancer (Cancer.net)
In summary, what is vaping, what really are vape tools (or E-cigarettes) and what are the dangers of vaping? They are the “trick” of the tobacco industry. They are liquid filled containers that hold health -damaging ingredients that use heat and water vapor to bring the “high” of addictive nicotine to the person who uses it. Unlike cigarettes or cigars, vape tools are smoke-free but contain many of the same health damaging additives. Most are unregulated until recently and are easily purchased online by anyone. They are designed to be discreet, can use flavors added to taste like candy, and look like anything from a pen, to a PEZ candy dispenser, to a lipstick. They are growing in popularity with young people (under 18), and “E-cig usage by high school students [has] increased [by] 78% between 2017-2018” (Flavorshookkids.org). Vape companies are trying to sell to kids from 12-20. “The tobacco industry is hooking the next generation of addicts, and flavors are a big way in. Four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product” (Flavorshookkids.org). This trend is so important since “nicotine is one of the most toxic [and addictive] of all poisons. It can rewire the brain, particularly vulnerable in the developing years, from adolescence to mid-twenties.” (Flavorshookkids.org). Just as smoking, vaping needs to be controlled now. The children of today are the future of tomorrow, if they are not healthy, happy and prepared to handle life as adults because they are addicted to nicotine as children, how can we expect them to lead us through the future?
Blaha, Michael Joseph, M.D. (2019). 5 Truths You Need to Know about Vaping. hopkinsmedicine.org. Accessed 5/15/19 from
Cancer.net (2018). Health Risks of E-Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco, and Waterpipes). Cancer.net website. Accessed 5/19/19 from https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/stopping-tobacco-use-after-cancer-diagnosis/health-risks-e-cigarettes-smokeless-tobacco-and-waterpipes
CDC Quick Facts (2019). Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teensm and Young Adults. Cdc.gov website. Accessed 7/17/19 from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html
Centers for Disease Control (2019). Tips From Former Smokers - Overviews of Diseases/Conditions [resulting from smoking]. CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 5/15/19 from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=EST+4059+-+Tips+2016+Campaign+Search+-+English+-+Prevention+Terms%3BS%3BWL%3BBR%3BRES%3BHCP%3BCO&utm_content=Smoking+General+-+Exact&utm_term=results+of+smoking&&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiMmw-bfu4gIVkq_sCh3bxAwvEAAYAyAAEgJH_fD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
Felman, Adam (2018). Everything You Need to Know About Nicotine. Medicalnewstoday.com. Accessed 5/17/19 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240820.php
FlavorsHookKids (2019). Vaping is a Youth Epidemic. Flavorshookkids.org. Accessed 5/15/19 from https://www.flavorshookkids.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIto6Ag9np4gIVkvhkCh2lkAodEAAYASAAEgL8evD_BwE#
Mann, Jeremy (2018). Stealth and Zero Vaping: What it is and How to Do It. Vaping360.com. Accessed 5/17/19 from https://vaping360.com/vaping-101/stealth-vaping/
MayoClinicStaff (2019). Emphysema. Mayoclinic.org. Accessed 5/19 19 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/emphysema/symptoms-causes/syc-20355555Vapes
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VapePenSales (2019). Xvape XLUX Vixen Lipstick Wax Vaporizer Kit. Vapepensales.com. Accessed 5/16/19 from https://vapepensales.com/products/xvape-xlux-vixen-lipstick-wax-vaporizer-kit