For years now, e-cigarette companies have worked to convince the public that their products are safer than traditional cigarette smoking. However, their ability to make these arguments has been hampered this year, as many thousands of people have been hospitalized due to vape-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has kept track of vape-related illnesses and deaths, and the number has been steadily climbing for months. As of this writing, more than 2,000 people have become ill, and over 40 have died due to confirmed lung-related diseases caused by vaping.
What do the experts say?
Many agencies and organizations have been vocal about the health risks associated with vaping. The American Heart Association (AHA), along with several regulatory agencies (CDC, FDA), has pointed out that e-cigarettes can pose serious health complications.
- Most of them deliver high concentrations of nicotine, sometimes containing a solution of 5% nicotine. This can hinder the development of teen and young adult brains and harm fetuses in pregnant women.
- The vape solutions in many of these products contain harmful chemicals, including diacetyl, cancer-causing chemicals, and volatile organic compounds.
The key difference between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is that the latter does not contain any tobacco. However, tobacco is only part of the problem posed by traditional cigarettes. Many of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes are present in e-cigarettes, as well.
The diseases happen faster
Most people who develop health issues after smoking traditional cigarettes have used the products for years, or even decades. Recently, it has become clear that vaping can cause serious health issues after just one year or less of using the products. Some of the symptoms related to vape illnesses include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Many victims end up having seizures, developing asthma, and experiencing “wet lung.” Recently, a 17-year-old underwent a double lung transplant after developing severe lung disease after using e-cigarettes. Doctors said the teen was days away from dying due to the disease.
Are these products regulated?
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does have the authority to regulate e-cigarette products, it has not yet done so. It has allowed these companies continual extensions to their deadline for submitting the products for testing. Until vape products are tested by the government, we will not know the complete dangers they pose. The FDA has said for a decade that e-cigarettes contain “detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could be exposed.”
A new generation is being hooked on nicotine
Juul Labs and other e-cigarette makers have been blasted for targeting youth, something that is eerily similar to the tactics used by big tobacco companies in the past. For years, the use of traditional cigarettes has been dropping among teens. However, the introduction of flavored vape products is leading to a new generation of young people getting hooked on nicotine, most of whom had never smoked before.
The CDC says that nearly two-thirds of teenage e-cigarette users did not even know there was always nicotine in the products they were using. They admittedly used vape products because of the many flavors available.
While e-cigarettes may be one method that could help adults transition from traditional cigarettes to tobacco-free lifestyles, there is little proof that vape products are doing more good than harm.