Vaping and Nicotine Addiction
Vaping is a means of inhaling an aerosol that has been heated from a liquid into a vapor and usually contains drugs such as nicotine or THC. The first vape pens hit the market in 2003. Commonly known as e-cigarettes, they were originally invented as a safer alternative to normal cigarettes, however, not enough is known about these devices to determine if that conclusion is true in the long run. This technology is so new that the FDA did not monitor vapes until 2016, thirteen years after their invention. Some common vapes include, e-cigarettes, dab-pens, juuls, suorins, phixs, and vape pens. Recently these have all become very popular among teenagers, with nearly 16% having vaped by 2015. Furthermore, about 20% of people using vapes with some form of nicotine had never smoked a cigarette. (YouthRadio).
Vape pens contain compounds such as benzoic acid, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and polyethylene glycol, all of which are combustible. Along with being explosive, many of these compounds can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and other digestive issues. (Allen).
These pens also have the ability to be flavored almost anything under the sun, which makes them very appealing to teens. What most don’t understand, however, is these flavorings contain chemicals such as diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin, all of which are found in popcorn flavoring. These chemicals can cause a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, commonly known as popcorn lung. While they are perfectly safe to eat, these chemicals can cause irreversible scarring when inhaled into the lungs.
Nicotine is a drug with addictive properties comparable to heroin. Rates of addiction are also increasing because It has also become incredibly easy to use these vapes consistently throughout the day. They do not produce a smoke smell and the vapor disperses easily. The quantity of nicotine can vary. For example, one juul pod is equal to one pack of cigarettes. Vapes can also have completely customizable quantities of nicotine, making their users become addictive at a more rapid pace.
Nicotine is known as a “gateway drug” because of its ability to create a strongly addictive habit. The National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a survey that concluded, “90% of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine” (Why Nicotine Is a Gateway Drug).
Not only is nicotine highly addictive and proven to lead to other drug abuse, the chemicals used in vapes are not healthy in the slightest. It is important to remember that while vapes may seem like a healthier alternative to getting a nicotine fix now, people believed cigarettes were perfectly harmless well into the 1970’s.
Allen, Joseph G, et al. “Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ehp.niehs.nih.gov/15-10185/.
Stobbe, Mike. “No Longer the Hot New Thing? Teen Vaping Falls, Study Says.” STAT, Associated Press, 15 June 2017, www.statnews.com/2017/06/15/vaping-teens-electronic-cigarettes-cdc/.
US, blu. “Hon Lik: The Man Who Invented Vaping | Blu.” Blu US, 15 Nov. 2017, www.blu.com/en/US/blog/industry-news/hon-lik-man-invented-vaping.html.
“Why Nicotine Is a Gateway Drug.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2 Oct. 2015, www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/why-nicotine-gateway-drug.
YouthRadio. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Dec. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnKwHWyHH4g&t=1s.