For some time now, there has been a burgeoning increase in the rate at which youths, especially teenagers, have began vaping. There has been a rise in vaping over the past few years, and sadly, some consumers are underage. This rise has also led a serious debate on the alternative of e-cigarettes for vaping instead of tobacco. Research has shown that most teens believe that vaping or smoking electronic cigarettes is better than smoking tobacco.
First, What is Vaping?
Vaping involved the inhalation and exhalation of aerosol from a vaping device. The vaping device includes a mouthpiece, cartridge which contains the vaping juice and a heating component with a battery for power. The liquid, known as e-liquid, is a combination of several chemicals which include nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings.
So far, the use of electronic cigarettes for vaping has been hailed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco or conventional cigarettes. But the questions are; Are they really safe? Do they prevent health risks associated with smoking?
What Are The Differences From Smoking?
The primary differences between e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes is that these e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, and involve no combustion. An important note is that the FDA does not approve the use of e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking. Vaping, when compared to tobacco smoking, is still harmful due to the consumption of nicotine, but less harmful due to the lack of carcinogens found in smoke. Between vaping and smoking of tobacco, vaping has been shown to be safer than smoking tobacco, but, it does not mean that vaping is totally harmless. Vaping is considered the lesser of the two evils.
How Are Teens Involved?
Some say vaping has slowly become an epidemic among teens. While we have seen that the rate of tobacco smoking is going down, the rate of vaping in young people has been increasing. In the year 2017, the Center for Disease Control has shown studies that report over 50% of high school teenagers are vaping. In that same year, another survey also found that 3% of 8th graders, 8% of 10th graders, 11% of 11th graders and 24% of seniors have been also tried vaping.
Why Teens tend towards vaping.
The reasons why teens tend greatly towards vaping include
- The Flavoring.
The idea most of these teens could have is that these e-cigarettes are “vaporized candy” and they are totally safe. Vape cartridges come in various flavorings and packages like candy, chocolate, cherry, etc. The colorful appeal of the label designs tend to attract young people.
There are ways in which some of these products are promoted to appeal to the youth. Some vape companies advertise their products so that they appeal to young people greatly, and that they are mostly patronized by youths without mention of any potential negative effects that are associated with the products. Other products that are created alongside these vaping devices such as t-shirts, baseball caps, hoodies, and other items that appeal to youths in order to attract them.
- Peer pressure.
Influence of friends and social media have given these youths several reasons to think and believe that vaping is good and acceptable. On social media, there is a high frequency of vaping related posts that lead teens to believe that vaping is cool and could also lead them to want to try vaping themselves.
The Health Risks of Vaping.
FDA studies have shown that the e-cigarettes contain some reasonable amounts of toxic chemicals which put the users at risk. A study conducted also determined that these well-known brands of e-cigarettes contain an above average amount of formaldehyde and benzene which is also harmful. The after effect of the consumption of these chemicals, in the long run, could lead to inflammation, bronchitis and eventually heart disease. Most individuals believe that vaping is used to treat smoking addiction or is a healthier alternative to smoking. There are some new vape studies which also back up this claim. The studies that have existed has shown that although 85% of e-cigarette users have claimed to quit smoking by the use of e-cigarettes, they were no more likely to quit nicotine altogether.
The FDA and other governmental bodies have already taken action towards curbing this menace that has plagued our youth. The FDA was given the power to regulate the manufacturing, sales and the distribution of all tobacco products in 2009.
Due to the rise of e-cigarette vaping especially among youth, however, the U.S government has made several moves to ban its sale or stifle distribution due to the belief that many youth could consider these substances as flavoring without realizing how dangerous it can potentially be to their overall physical health. The FDA has steps they plan to take in partnership with state governments to tackle the sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to children especially as a flavoring or as candy-like substances. So far, they have issued a warning against the manufacturing and sale of these products to 12 companies based in the U.S. that makes sales through deceptive marketing.
The FDA has urged these companies to properly address the sale of these e-cigarettes to youths or risk losing the right to manufacture vaping products in the country. To gain clearance to return to the market, they would have to prove that the benefits to adults that tend to use these e-cigarettes to stop smoking conventional cigarettes greatly outweigh the risks that young people may encounter.
Pro vaping groups have refuted these claims with studies saying that the use of vaping devices proves a very healthy alternative to tobacco consumption. They have also said that the negative effects are very minimal when consumed by teenagers.
It is very crucial that these young individuals should be properly trained and well informed about the danger and health risks involved in smoking, and vaping as well. Schools and governmental organizations should make sure that these teens properly understand the long-term consequences of smoking or vaping especially the consumption of the addictive chemical, nicotine. They should know that prolonged consumption could lead to health issues. Parents should also contribute their part by making sure that there is proper communication between themselves and their teens. They also need to watch out carefully for the signs involved because it is harder to tell whenever a child is involved in vaping than when they are involved in smoking tobacco.