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Still think vaping is safer than smoking? Think again.

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Whether due to clever marketing or simply a lack of research, teens and adults alike have become hooked on vaping thinking it is a safer alternative to smoking. But mounting evidence is bringing to light the dangers of vaping and showing why it may be just as harmful as smoking – or even worse.

Vaping involves the use of battery-powered devices such as e-cigarettes and vape pens that allow users to inhale a vaporized liquid into their lungs. Most vaping liquid contains nicotine. Even ones that don’t may contain potentially harmful substances. Some people use vape pens to inhale liquid containing THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets you high.

“Vaping is a dangerous new epidemic that has been sweeping the country especially in teens and young adults, and now, the Center for Disease Control is investigating if vaping is the cause of over 200 cases of severe lung disease as well as 2 deaths over the past few months. Here in Louisiana, there have been 9 reported cases of suspected vaping-related lung disease in just the past 2 weeks.”

-Mindy L. Calandro, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Medicine

There’s a lot that is still unknown about the dangers of vaping but here is what we do know:

  • Vaping liquid often contains nicotine. Whether you inhale nicotine from a regular cigarette or an e-cigarette, the substance is highly addictive. More young people are becoming addicted to nicotine due to vaping even though youth rates of smoking had been decreasing. Studies show that adults who use e-cigarettes in an effort to stop smoking are often unsuccessful. There is little evidence that vaping helps smokers quit.
  • Vaping exposes you to other substances. The vapor in some e-cigarette products contains known toxins and carcinogens. Vaping liquid may also contain chemicals whose risks are yet unknown. Additionally, the process of vaporizing the liquid in e-cigarettes may release harmful substances.
  • Vaping among teens is an epidemic. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used form of tobacco among teens in the U.S. In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes within the previous 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Vaping may encourage smoking. Evidence suggests that teens and preteens who vape are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • There’s a lot we still don’t know.  Hundreds of serious lung illnesses across the country, including several dozen deaths, have recently been linked to vaping. This spike in severe respiratory illnesses has led public officials to issue dire warnings about vaping. The CDC is stepping up its probe into vaping-related illnesses. More resources are being put towards researching and regulating vaping products. But as of now, we don’t know what’s causing these illnesses or what other problems may arise due to vaping.

While efforts are being made to learn more about the dangers of vaping and to warn the public of these potential dangers, one thing is clear. The best thing you can do to avoid any known or as-yet-unknown danger is to stop vaping.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 18, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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