The Risks and Rewards of Vaping

It was yet another glorious winter morning, as radiant beams of sunlight gleamed upon freshly compiled snowbanks, and a slight wind nipped at one’s face as they welcomed the arrival of a new day and the beginning of another monotonous routine. However, as one walked down the winding path to the entrance of the school building, everything instantly improved when one was greeted by their best friend, eager to divulge the latest secret or engage in the most entertaining casual banter. It is from this moment on that one experiences the complete comfort of their own personal atmospheres, refusing to reflect upon the people beside them, unaware of the danger that was lurking right before their very eyes. For these students beside them had been reluctantly inhaling their last vapors, vigilantly surveying the area for school administrators who would oust their whimsical sensations, then concealed their Juuls once again, only to later repeat the cycle. It is due to this carelessness and lack of understanding that vaping has become a pastime for increasing amounts of teenagers over the past years, posing as a detrimental threat to both their neurological and respiratory systems. It is due to this reason that vaping is hazardous to the health of every individual who is introduced to this practice because of the ailments that one acquires, the addiction that one develops, and the abuse of the substance that one demonstrates while vaping.

Ever since the invention of the electronic cigarette or e-cigarette in 2003 at Golden Dragon Holdings, more currently known as Ruyuan, by Chinese Pharmacist, Hon Lik, the invention eventually became a popular product with a rocky start, later resulting with the export of the new technology in 2005 to foreign markets (Medical News Today). Due to this new innovative invention, during a time when cigarettes began to yield ever-increasing carcinogenic test results, the e-cigarette was the highly demanded and coveted product that the world had been inadvertently seeking for, as a safer and more effective alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, over time, the initial usage of this product became very indistinct as more and more users took to this technology as a source of consolation or recreation once e-cigarettes entered the United States in the mid-2000s, rapidly increasing in both production and transactions in 2007, resulting with the formation of over 460 brands of e-cigarettes available to the public (CDC and Medical News Today). It has widely corresponded to this rationale that the invention of a new and inspiringly peculiar device or the first JUUL came to light in 2015 (Tobacco-Free Kids). Although among all the praise and appealing advertisements, individuals never realized the underlying issue with the device, refusing to consider or recognize that vaping a JUUL could be easily equated with smoking multiple cigarettes until previous years and that their lives could forever cease to exist, merely for the sake of a temporary sensation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “as of January 21, 2020, a total of 2,711 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths have been reported to CDC from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands),” leading to at least 60 deaths from vaping (CDC). EVALI, also known as e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury, has been an increasing issue in the United States ever since August 2019, so why has there recently been such a rise in the injuries and death toll of e-cigarette users after years of use without widespread issues (Yale Medicine)? One reason is associated with increased research and understanding of e-cigarette usage and vaping over the past years, mainly due to its popularity and acquisition among teenagers in middle school and high school. As for the other reason, researchers are still uncertain of the underlying cause of these EVALI cases due to a multitude of factors, all of which are related to the chemicals found within a vape pen. However, the most suspected cause of lung diseases, such as pulmonary surfactant, interference of the alveoli lining and bronchiolitis obliterans or inflammation of the alveoli, all of which restrict oxygen from the blood, is Vitamin E acetate, a vitamin that is safe when ingested; however, harmful when inhaled by the lungs (Science Insider). Along with Vitamin E acetate, acrolein, a weed killer that can cause COPD, asthma and lung cancer; diacetyl; volatile organic compounds (VOCs); and even nickel, tin, and lead can be found in JUULs and vape pens across the United States (American Heart Association and American Lung Association).

One might believe that after all the health risks, warnings, pedagogy, and advertisements against vaping that individuals, especially America’s youth, would be less likely to acquire vaping as a hobby, instead serving as an incentive to quit or refrain from vaping, to begin with; however, once one begins vaping, quitting is not a simple task. In fact, vaping is actually more challenging to quit than refraining from smoking cigarettes due to the fact that “some types expose users to even more nicotine than traditional cigarettes (the American Heart Association).” This is all due to the fact that nicotine is “highly addictive,” resulting with the interference of the “developing brains of teens, kids and fetuses in women who vape while pregnant (the American Heart Association).” This factor along with the wide variety of JUUL pod flavors that are easily available to America’s youth have had a profound effect on the number of teens susceptible to the exposure and acquisition of JUULing. Due to the high demand among young adults purchasing exotic and enticing JUUL pod flavors, the Trump Administration announced on   January 2nd, 2020, that a countrywide ban on “fruit, mint and other e-cigarette flavors” would officially be put into effect, in order to “keep them away from kids” (NPR). Under these certain stipulations, manufacturers would also be forced to comply with the ban, causing failure to uphold these requirements within 30 days, to result with the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, forcibly taking these products off the market (NPR). It is due to these new regulations that the United States can begin to combat vaping among teenagers, which has become a pastime for over 1,400,000 more young adults in 2019 compared to 2018, completely undermining the true purpose for the invention of the device in the first place (NPR).

Although vaping can be beneficial to those who are striving to hinder or undergo drastic measures, in order to annihilate their tobacco addiction; vaping can be very hazardous to those who have never been exposed to such toxic aerosols, which can be quite detrimental to certain individuals’ pulmonary pathways. With this ideology, the overall objective of the vaping epidemic is that although vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, containing less carcinogenic and toxic chemicals, vaping is still very harmful to those who have never smoked before. By putting oneself in this possibly life-threatening situation, one not only harms themselves but others who are susceptible to second-hand smoke, which is just as lethal and dangerous as it is to the person vaping themselves. Therefore, in order to effectively improve the pulmonary pathways of America’s youth, one must not fall victim to peer pressure and understand the benefits of one’s own individuality, regardless of how others may perceive them, because we are our own unique and inspiring individuals. And if we perish or cease to exist on this Earth, then that is one less person that could have made a difference in society and changed how we perceive the world as a whole, possibly one day allowing us to accept each other’s differences and view each other as equals. 

Works Cited

“Are E-Cigarettes a Safe Alternative to Smoking?” Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/216550.php. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

“E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).” Yale Medicine, http://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/evali/. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

“The Impact of E-Cigarettes on the Lung.” American Lung Association, http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/impact-of-e-cigarettes-on-lung.html. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

“Is Vaping Better than Smoking?” American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/is-vaping-safer-than-smoking. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

“JUUL and Youth: Rising E-Cigarette Popularity.” Tobacco-Free Kids, http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0394.pdf. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

Lupkin, Sydney. “Trump Administration Cracks down on Some Flavored Vaping Products.” NPR, 2 Jan. 2020, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/02/793125332/trump-administration-cracks-down-on-some-flavored-vaping-products. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

“Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.” CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.”Why Vaping Is Bad for You.” Youtube, Science Insider, 11 Sept. 2019, m.youtube.com/watch?v=wGJpGSCBzZ8. Accessed 12 Feb. 2020.

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