Vaping: A Serious Health Risk

If you have kept up with current events, you have seen there has been a lot of news lately about the safety of vaping. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [pdf] “E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat up a liquid blend of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals, producing an aerosol—a vapor—that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarette use, also known as vaping, is associated with severe health risks. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Office cautions that “The aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.” The vapor can also be harmful to bystanders.

Because e-cigarettes are fairly new products, research examining the long-term effects of vaping are ongoing. However, we do know at this point that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that is detrimental to brain development and can increase the risk for addiction to other drugs.

Can Vaping Really Help Me Quit Smoking?

Though e-cigarettes are marketed as being useful for people who are attempting to quit smoking cigarettes, there is much debate among researchers due to mixed results. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking aid. A recent study demonstrated that those who attempted to quit smoking by using e-cigarettes instead continued to use both products.

If you’re looking to quit smoking, there are a number of resources available, including possibly free cessation classes on your campus.

Smoke-Free Campuses

Over 2,300 universities have enforced tobacco-free policies on campus—a number that has doubled since 2012. Almost 2,000 of these universities have specifically prohibited the use of e-cigarettes on campus.  Tobacco- and smoke-free policies help protect people in the campus community from the negative effects of secondhand smoke/aerosol and also help prevent people from using tobacco products to begin with or to quit using them. Check with any university you are planning on attending to see if a smoke-free campus policy exists there and if it includes e-cigarettes. You may consider quitting before starting classes to help make the transition to college easier and less stressful.

Resources

Smoke Free Teens
Become an Ex: Quitting E-Cigarettes
Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes and Young People