According to National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) site; E-cigarettes has only been around for about ten years, so researchers are in the early stage of studying how they affect your health. E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine without the other chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves. Puffing on the mouthpiece of the cartridge activates a battery-powered inhalation device (called a vaporizer). The vaporizer heats the liquid inside the cartridge which contains nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals. The heated liquid turns into an aerosol (vapor) which the user inhales—referred to as “vaping.”
Health experts have raised many questions about the safety of these products, particularly for teens:
- Testing of some e-cigarette products found the aerosol (vapor) to contain known cancer-causing and toxic chemicals, and particles from the vaporizing mechanism that may be harmful. The health effects of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.
- There is animal research which shows that nicotine exposure may cause changes in the brain that make other drugs more rewarding. If this is true in humans, as some experts believe, it would mean that using nicotine in any form would increase the risk of other drug use and for addiction.
- Some research suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as a “gateway” or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products, including regular cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to early death. A recent study showed that students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products within the next year.10
- The liquid in e-cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning if someone drinks, sniffs, or touches it. Recently there has been a surge of poisoning cases in children under age 5. There is also concern for users changing cartridges and for pets.
- Some research shows that secondhand e-cig vapor pollutes the air quality with particles that could harm the lungs and heart.11
- Some research suggests that certain brands of e-cigs contain metals like nickel and chromium, possibly coming from the heating of coils.12
There are FDA regulations now which means that the Federal government will now have a lot more information about what is in e-cigarettes, the safety or harms of the ingredients, how they are made, and what risks need to be communicated to the public (for example, on health warnings on the product and in advertisements). They will also be able to stop manufacturers from making statements about their products that are not scientifically proven. However, regulation does not mean that e-cigarettes are necessarily safe for all adults to use, or that all of the health claims currently being made in advertisements by manufactures are true. But it does mean that e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars now have to follow the same type of rules as cigarette manufacturers.
Sources for this information:
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW
10 Rigotti NA. e-Cigarette use and subsequent tobacco use by adolescents: new evidence about a potential risk of e-cigarettes. JAMA. 2015;314(7):673-674.
11 Schober W, Szendrei K, Matzen W, et al. Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) impairs indoor air quality and increases FeNO levels of e-cigarette consumers. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. 2014; 217:628-637.
12 Hess CA, Olmedo P, Goessler W, Cohen E, Rule AM. E-cigarettes as a source of toxic and potentially carcinogenic metals. Environmental Research. 2017;152:221-221.
According to the 2015 PAYS Data for our county which is administered with youth in 6th, 8th , 10th and 12th grades; vaping is an emerging method of drug use where a device with a heating element is used to vaporize and inhale the psychoactive ingredients in tobacco (or sometimes marijuana). While it is often portrayed a safer alternative to smoking, the data on vaping are scant and the risks poorly understood. Our county data shows that in our country the use of marijuana is higher than the states average.