Smoke and Mirrors: Students put themselves at higher risk of health issues through use of vapes

Vaping has overtaken students across America with the endless variety of flavors and easy access to products. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, vaping has created a generation of users who don’t know what they’re putting into their bodies; in fact, 13.7% have no clue.

The misconception about electronic cigarettes is that they are harmless, especially when compared to tobacco cigarettes. Although it’s true in most cases that they’re safer than normal cigarettes, electronic cigarette users still put themselves at risk health-wise.

Most vaping products contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical compound found in tobacco plants. Nicotine can affect young users’ hormones, hearts, brain development, and gastrointestinal systems in addition to being as addictive as heroin.

Vaping products often have a nicotine-free alternative, but the risk of adverse health effects isn’t as reduced as consumers might believe. Traces of nicotine are still found in e-liquids labeled as nicotine-free along with lung-harming substances. Acrolein, another chemical compound found in electronic cigarettes, is toxic through any method of use and heavily damages the respiratory system.

E-liquid used for vaping consists of many chemicals in addition to nicotine such as diacetyl. Diacetyl is linked to lung disease and affect the smallest airways of the lungs and is toxic enough to be classified as an inhalation hazard in workplaces interacting with the chemical.

Putting the harmful chemicals aside, vaping itself can lead to extremely damaging lung inflammation. The vapor derived from e-cigs attacks and disables important immune system cells protecting the lungs. Harming these cells makes teen consumers’ lungs more vulnerable to the chemicals in e-liquids and countless other diseases unrelated to vaping.

Although the number of teens vaping is twice the amount smoking normal cigarettes, vaping often acts as a gateway drug, leading users to other tobacco products. Information from NIDA states that 30.7% of teens using e-cigs started smoking tobacco cigarettes within 6 months after they started vaping.

Vaping has been labeled as safe among users because it is less lethal than smoking, but the long term effect leads impressionable users back to the deadly original. E-cigs are intended to help adults with their smoking addiction but instead has gathered a large consumer base that is under 18.

Just like any other substance illegal to minors, electronic cigarettes and the products needed to use them are still obtainable. Teens can purchase them through stores that don’t verify age, individuals who are over 18, or by trying to make them at home.

Do-it-yourself electronic cigarettes and e-liquids can be even more harmful than purchased products because of the lack of knowledge and materials. Making them at home increases the risk of what teens are inhaling due to the ingredients they have access to.

Parents of teens using e-cigs are often unaware of what these products look like because they come in various sizes and shapes. Despite most parents not wanting their kids to be involved in vaping, students often remain undetected.

Most teens don’t seek out vaping but use it because of influence and accessibility. One of the leading causes of teen vaping is that their friends and family use e-cigs, which creates the idea that it’s acceptable.

For individuals trying to quit smoking, vaping is an excellent option with a good success rate. However, when it comes to children, teens, and adults not trying to quit, it can become very dangerous and potentially put them at an even greater risk.