Adolescents are using vaping products in increasing quantities, causing a lot of concern for parents, health care organizations and professionals alike. Recent studies on vaping build up on previous beliefs about the harmful effects of vaping on users especially adolescents. Most of the concerns are centred around the harmful effects on the health of youth users.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is basically a process of using e-cigarettes to smoke substances. E-cigarettes are electronic devices used with a liquid mixture which produces the smoke or fog when heated. The smoke is inhaled and exhaled as in tobacco smoking.
E-cigarettes are available in different forms: - cigars, cigarettes, pipes, pens, USB flash drives and other large formats.
E-cigarettes are also known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, tank systems, and ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems
Popular E-cigarette brands include JUUL who manufacture pods that contain nicotine levels that match those found in approx 20 cigarettes. Other brands are MarkTen Elite, which delivers nicotine and PAX Era which delivers marijuana.
What do e-cigarettes contain?
The major ingredients in e-cigarettes are glycol, nicotine and flavours. Glycol is the fluid medium in e-cigarettes that create the exhaled vapour. Glycols are used to create the smokes and fogs seen at musical events and theatre productions. They are also used in food additives, cosmetics, and industrial antifreeze. Studies have associated chronic wheezing and chest tightness to people who work with theatrical smoke and fog for long periods of time.
Glycerin is used to carry flavours, overall glycerin is safe to take orally, however with heating, it is replaced by a toxic form of glycol as ingredients interact with each other. This form of glycol is not safe to inhale.
Nicotine in e-cigarettes is determined to be as high as that in regular cigarettes.
Flavours make up an essential part of e-cigarettes. Some flavours in high concentration can be toxic. Different levels of toxic chemicals from flavours were identified in exhaled vapours.
Why are e-cigarettes unsafe for adolescents?
Adolescents’ brains are not fully developed until around age 25. Toxins identified in e-liquids can interfere with normal brain development and impair brain function.
Learning disorders, lack of motivation, poor memory, poor attention, moodiness, and inability to control impulses may result from harmful effects on the brain.
A 2015 WHO study established the presence of cancer cells and toxins in blood and urine samples of vapers.
Intentional and non-intentional poisoning can occur with e-fluids, causing vomiting, nausea and palpitations.
Flavours can make the product unstable and increase nicotine concentrations.
Risk for serious Injuries can be caused by explosion or fires from brands, batch, preferred flavour, faulty e-cigarette battery, cleanliness or age of the vaporizer.
Studies have identified harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene and 2, 5-dimethylfuran in exhaled breath of Vapers.
Light headedness, throat irritation, dizziness, cough and increased heart rate
Increase risk of addiction to other substances, including tobacco use
Lung diseases like airway obstruction, airway inflammation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tuberculosis
Inability to fight respiratory tract infections may occur.
Poisoning by e-liquid can occur through accidental swallowing or contact through skin and eyes.
Passive poisoning may also occur through exhaled vapour.
A 2015 WHO Study found an Interaction with radon, an invisible odorless gas commonly found in homes, increasing risk of lung cancer by 20 times.
Did you know?
Switching to e-cigarettes as a way to break nicotine addiction is not effective.
E-cigarettes are as highly addictive as nicotine.
Resist and stay in control
As tempting as vaping may be to youth, they have inner qualities that may help them resist substance use. Check out pages 31 -36 of ‘Cannabis and other substance use: an information guide for adolescents”, to learn more.