Following a large number of injuries and deaths related to vaping, governments are starting to react. Experts say action is needed to protect children and young adults, who are targeted by vaping companies.
Almost everyone knows that smoking kills people. Until recently, many people believed that using e-cigarettes, or vaping, was safer.
Now, after nearly 1,300 illnesses and 27 deaths related to vaping in the US alone, many people are realizing that there’s a dangerous problem. The problem is especially serious for young people.
E-cigarettes were once thought of as a way for people to stop smoking. In some cases, they can help smokers stop. But for people who have never smoked, vaping introduces problems that can last a lifetime.
Cigarettes and most vaping products contain a drug called nicotine. Though nicotine is a poison, when people have a little bit of it, it can give them an excited feeling, making their hearts beat more quickly.
Over time, nicotine changes the body so that people feel like they need more of it. They may feel sick if they don’t get more. They have become addicted to nicotine. Not all vaping is about nicotine. Some people use products with THC, which gives them a different feeling.
When people vape, they breathe in a cloud of mist, or vapor. Even though the vapor isn’t smoke, it has other dangerous chemicals and metals in it. And, unlike smoking, vaping hasn’t been studied much. Scientists still don’t know how it affects people.
Even more untested are cheaper vaping products that may be sold on the street or over the internet. Since these aren’t sold in regular stores, there’s no way of knowing what chemicals have gone into the products.
In the US, cigarettes and e-cigarettes can only be sold to adults. Still, many companies are trying to get young people to try vaping. They use special flavors, like gummy bear or cotton candy, and make vaping liquids look like children’s juice or candy.
As a result, many young people have started vaping, thinking it was safe. Many teens may feel peer pressure to try vaping, since they know other kids who vape. But once someone is addicted, it can be extremely hard to stop.
A special concern for young people is that their brains are still growing and developing. Experts worry that by experiencing addiction at such a young age, they will be more likely to suffer from more addictions later in life.
The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, but the growing numbers of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths are a strong sign that it’s not safe even in the short term.
Though experts are still working to learn the exact causes of the medical problems, health leaders are encouraging people to avoid vaping products.
In September, the US government suggested making it against the law to sell flavored vaping products. The state of Massachusetts went further, stopping the sale of all vaping products for four months while the problem is studied.
Note: Though this article focused on the US, vaping is an international problem. In India, for example, the government has taken the strongest action yet, making e-cigarettes completely against the law.
Did You Know…?
Vaping is also dangerous because of the devices themselves. Between 2015 and 2017, over 2,000 people visited US hospital emergency rooms because of explosions and burn injuries from vaping devices.