Vaping has been around for a while. It started as a method to quit smoking, without cutting out nicotine cold turkey. As time has passed, there have been multiple brands of e-cigarettes and vapes, but Juul has quickly become the most commonly known. Some other popular names for e-cigarettes and vapes include mods, pens, juice, PV, or e-liquid.
Vapes are small and are able to be hidden well, which is part of the draw. They also come in a variety of different flavors, creating a marketing effort directed towards youth. In fact, of users that are age 12-17, 85% are using flavored vapes. The marketing of vapes makes it seem safer than smoking, to the point where 3 out of 5 teens believe that vaping occasionally will do no harm.
While vapes are marketed as being safer, one Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. The pods are small, so it is hard to recognize just how much of one is being smoke at one time, which leads to consuming more nicotine than a person would have otherwise.
As the availability of these e-cigarettes and vapes increases, so does the use. In 2011, only about 2% of boys and girls partook in smoking e-cigarettes or vapes, but comparatively in 2017, this rose to 13% in 8th graders, and up to 28% in 12th graders.
In the state of New Jersey, the legal age to buy tobacco products is 21. Given the sheer number of people under the age of 21 that are obtaining these devices, it is evident that people are illegally purchasing or selling devices to underage persons.
The real risk with electronic cigarettes and vaping is that we do not know the effects that it will have on the body for long term use. According to the American Lung Association, there has been a link between vaping and popcorn lung, especially when it comes to flavored vapes. A 2015 study showed that 39 out of 51 tested brands contained diacetyl, which is the chemical known to cause popcorn lung.
Aside from this known side effect, it is unknown what will happen due to the chemicals and mechanisms of e-cigarettes and vapes. Generally, the oil or liquid is heated up using metal coils, which can then be inhaled along with the nicotine.
Smoking electronic cigarettes is a gateway to other nicotine products and is a health concern that is completely avoidable. Cigarette smoking was almost obsolete but vapes are bringing the nicotine and big tobacco companies back to the top. It is not a healthy alternative to smoking, and it is important to recognize the risks associated with using, especially in those underage.