The Dangers of Vaping: Six Facts to Know
Sep 27, 2019
Whether you’re trying to kick the smoking habit or just plain curious, vaping might seem harmless enough. But are electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) better or safer than traditional tobacco products?
Dr. Matt Hilton, Holland Hospital Family Medicine, offers six facts to answer this question and more:
- Fewer, but Not Free of Chemicals
Traditional cigarettes are known to contain thousands of toxic chemicals. While e-cigarettes and vaping pens may expose you to far fewer toxins, they are not free of harmful substances. Moreover, there is no typical e-cigarette; wide variability exists among products including the amounts of nicotine and other chemicals.
- Still, Vaping Isn’t Good for You
The primary component of e-cigarettes is the e-liquid contained in cartridges. To produce an e-liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (often propylene glycol), and may also include flavors, colors and other chemicals (including formaldehyde and acrolein, both of which can cause irreversible lung damage).
On September 10, Kansas Health officials reported a sixth person dying from lung disease related to vaping. (Other confirmed deaths have occurred in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.) To date, there have been more than 450 possible cases of lung illness tied with using e-cigarettes across 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The American Lung Association has also issued a warning, stating “e-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease.”
- The FDA Has Serious Concerns About Vaping
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently looking into a possible link between e-cigarettes and seizures or other neurologic symptoms. As of early August, the FDA has received more than 100 reports of seizure or other neurologic symptoms among e-cigarette users. In addition to potential neurologic problems, health experts are also investigating cases involving severe lung issues potentially tied to vaping.
- E-cigarettes Are Addictive
Although many young people may still not know it (or understand the amount they’re actually consuming), e-cigarettes contain nicotine, just like regular cigarettes. Sometimes, e-cigarettes can contain much more nicotine than cigarettes.
- E-cigarettes May Not Be Effective for Quitting Smoking
While they’ve been marketed as a safe and effective smoking cessation tool, the FDA has not approved them for such use. Individuals planning to use e-cigarettes to kick the nicotine habit may also wind up continuing to vape, as well as smoke traditional cigarettes. Worse yet, research recently revealed e-cigarettes may cause the same lung changes that lead to emphysema in smokers.
- Too Many Young People Are Trying Vaping
In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General reported e-cigarette use among high school students had risen by 900 percent, and 40 percent of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes may be enticing to teens because they believe vaping isn’t as harmful as smoking, they cost less than traditional cigarettes, and vape cartridges are frequently formulated with flavorings that are especially appealing to younger users. Just this month, Michigan became the first in the nation to ban flavored vape products, a move sparked by Governor Whitmer in an attempt to protect the state’s youth.
If your goal is quitting smoking, consider alternatives to e-cigarettes: Holland Hospital Healthy Life Programs can help. And talk to your kids about the health risks of vaping, too. For more information, please go to The Dangers of Vaping: Six Facts To Know
- Fewer, but Not Free of Chemicals