Dangers of Vaping

Courtesy of American Lung Association

The annual Great American Smokeout took place on November 17th, 2022 this year. It is a campaign sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage Americans to quit smoking tobacco. In light of this, it is critical to note the dangers of smoking in all forms). 

Since the first use of tobacco by the Mayans in the first century BC, to its worldwide spread with the Columbian Exchange of the 1400s, smoking has proven to be a significant, life-endangering problem. Today, more than 16 million Americans suffer from smoking-related diseases, and the CDC reported over 480,000 deaths caused by smoking per year, which amounts to about 1,300 deaths per day.

While younger generations may not be lighting up Marlboros in the bathrooms, the use of electronic smoking devices prevails. The CDC revealed in a study that over 2.5 million middle and high school students admitted to the regular use of electronic vaping devices in 2022.

Although scientists are still learning about the long-term effects of vaping, there is enough evidence from what we have today to encourage people to steer far away from them. From exploding battery cartridges to altering the development of the adolescent brain, vaping is dangerous to the human body- especially young ones. 

The adolescent mind is an ever-changing and developing organ. Scientists and psychologists have proven that the brain continues to grow until a person reaches about 25 years of age. They have also established that nicotine can harm this development. Many smokers looking to quit smoking turn to vaping devices that contain no nicotine to remove their addiction, smoke with less negative impact, and satisfy the flavor cravings. However, many of these are misleading: whether the package of the vaping device says “0% nicotine” or not, over 99% of electronic smoking devices contain nicotine, including ones that claim to have none. Nicotine’s harm to the adolescent mind can include areas that control mood, attention, learning, and impulse control. 

Most people correlate marijuana with memory deterioration, but it has been proven that nicotine can do this as well. When someone creates a new memory or learns a new skill, connections form between neurons, known as the synapse; nicotine alters the process that creates the synapses. 

The effects of nicotine extend beyond physical and mental; it damages emotional health. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, so when a person tries to stop using it, they experience withdrawal symptoms that alter their overall well-being. These symptoms include irritability, restlessness, feeling depressed or anxious, trouble sleeping, concentration problems, and nicotine cravings. People may turn to vaping to relieve these issues, but by doing so, they create a dangerous cycle and dependency. Moreover, quitting smoking is associated with lower anxiety, stress, and depression levels and improved quality of life and mood. 

Despite the lack of evidence and research on the long-term effects of vaping, there are plenty of reasons to stay away from it. Data collected by the CDC from 2020 states that 2807 people have contracted an e-cigarette-related illness, and 68 people have died. While the data has not been recently updated, the numbers continue to rise.