The Dangers of One other Epidemic: Teenage Vaping


In a review published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine last December, Dr. Rome and her co-author Perry Dinardo question the public perception that vaping is harmless or “at least less harmful than cigarette smoking”.

While it is likely true that vaping is less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes because the vaporized aerosols that make it into the lungs do not contain the thousands of toxic and carcinogenic substances inhaled by cigarette smokers, vaping still leads a fair proportion potentially a harmful chemical. In addition to nicotine, some of the chemicals, such as the carcinogenic formaldehyde, are produced when the nicotine-rich liquid is heated to high temperatures in some steamers.

“E-cigarettes may have their own unique health effects that we haven’t discovered yet,” said Theodore L. Wagener, director of the Center for Tobacco Research at Ohio State University. “While e-cigarettes undoubtedly expose users to far fewer harmful chemicals compared to tobacco cigarettes, we still don’t know how the body handles them and what long-term effects they could have.”

Remember, it was many decades before tens of millions of people smoked before the deadly dangers of tobacco cigarettes were realized.

The surge in electronic cigarette use was linked to the groundbreaking product Juul, a cartridge device launched in 2017 in a range of tantalizing flavors. Flavors that are particularly attractive to teenagers are no longer allowed to be used in closed-system devices such as Juul, which is now only sold in tobacco and menthol flavors but can still be used in open-system products that are used in vape- Stores are sold. And now a single-use product called the Puff Bar, available in more than 20 flavors, has replaced Juul as the vape of choice among young people.

Concerns about vaping grew after an outbreak of serious lung injury in 2019 that was later linked to vitamin E acetate, an additive found in some steamers that deliver THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Juul pods are not designed to be topped up with substances like THC or other chemicals.

The makers of Juul introduced changes that improved the palatability and safety of vaping while also “making it easier for children to get started using nicotine,” said Dr. Wagener. Instead of Freebase nicotine, which is very difficult to breathe, Juul contains a nicotine salt, “a very palatable form of nicotine that makes it easier to breathe in high doses of nicotine,” he explained. And Juul doesn’t need high temperatures that produce toxic substances like formaldehyde. A single tube contains the nicotine equivalent of a pack of conventional cigarettes.




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