Clearing the Air Around Vape

Clearing the Air Around Vape

Autumn Sorrentino, Editor in Cheif

In the past seven years, vaping has quintupled in popularity globally, with the USA topping charts in usage (BBC News). Though the legal purchasing age is 18, the trend has only gotten worse for adolescents.

It’s time to face facts: everyone knows someone who vapes. But does the public have any idea what e-cigarettes are, and what they are really doing?

“While using an e-cigarette is often called ‘vaping,’ the devices produce an aerosol, not a vapor. Unlike vapor, which is simply a substance in gas form, the aerosol from an e-cigarette can contain tiny chemical particles from both the liquid solution and the device (e.g., metals from the heating coil),” says the Truth Initiative website.

Contrary to popular belief, vaping is not just water– it contains chemicals like formaldehyde (the chemical used to keep dead bodies from decomposing), propylene glycol (the main chemical linked to popcorn lung and dry mouth), and nickel.

“At least 60 chemical compounds have been found in e-liquids, and more are present in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes,” the site continues. “Many of the flavorings and humectants used in e-liquids [or ‘juice’] have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for oral consumption, but not for inhalation. [This is] due to lack of research regarding the safety of these compounds when inhaled.”

Among the most concerning of these chemicals, though, is nicotine. Proven to be the leading cause of addiction, nicotine is in 98.7% of juice flavors, even those labeled as “Nic-free” (Truth Initiative).

“Exposure to nicotine among youth is particularly dangerous since it has been shown to have an effect on key brain receptors, making young people more susceptible to nicotine addiction,” Truth Initiative goes on. “There is some evidence that the effect of nicotine on developing brains may result in nicotine addiction and greater vulnerability to addiction to other drugs as well.”

Effects of nicotine include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and inability to focus on one thing for very long– symptoms that can mirror anxiety. With a high enough concentration in a short enough span of time, users can force themselves to feel “nic sick,” “buzzed,” or “high”– often associated with dizziness and nausea.

“Some e-cigarette products deliver nicotine almost as efficiently as a cigarette. For example, the maker of JUUL e-cigarettes claims the product has a nicotine content like traditional cigarettes, and that it delivers the nicotine up to 2.7 times faster than other e-cigarettes,” says Truth Initiative. “A single JUUL cartridge is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes, or 200 cigarette puffs. A recently published Truth Initiative study found that among current youth and young adult JUUL users, only 37 percent knew that the product always contains nicotine.”

JUUL products have taken the lead in vape products, making over 224 million dollars each year and growing. It has become especially favored for minors, who can hide the USB lookalike easily inside of schools and homes.

“Between 2011 and 2017, e-cigarette use significantly increased among youth in high school and middle school. The 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days, compared with 1.5 percent of high school and 0.6 percent of middle school students who reported current use in 2011,” says Truth Initiative.

And since last year, the number of high school students who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days has risen roughly 75%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

So what do we do about it? Why do we care?

“A 2016 study found that, of 90 countries surveyed, 25 banned e-cigarettes completely and 17 required premarket authorization before an e-cigarette could be sold. Thirty-five countries that allowed e-cigarettes to be sold prohibited them from being advertised,” says Truth Initiative. “The European Union has enacted standards for e-cigarettes, including restricting the strength of nicotine fluids (2 percent maximum), limiting tank size on vaping devices (2 mL maximum), requiring child-resistant packaging and prohibiting cross-border advertising of e-cigarettes. Some member states have further restrictions on the age of sale and taxes.”

While the FDA is beginning to enact more of these ideologies (most recently, banning “youth-targeting” JUUL flavors like fruit and mango), we are still far from where we need to be. However, with the rising awareness and area of concern, more restrictions are believed to be put in place soon. Until then, keep yourself safe, and know what you’re consuming.