According to the Center on Addiction, vaping has grown in popularity with the rise of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). Several studies indicate that particles found in the “vapor” produced by these devices contain toxic chemicals which have been linked to respiratory and heart disease, as well as cancer. Despite these findings, some still believe that vaping is far less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. In fact, the opposite is true. This Q&A addresses this and other misconceptions people may have about vaping.
Q: What are ENDS or vaping devices?
A: Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems are tobacco products that do not produce smoke. Some of the most commonly used terms used to describe these products are e-cigarettes, vapes and vaporizers. These devices are usually composed of a battery, heating element and a chamber which is often filled with liquid containing nicotine. This liquid is heated by the device to release an aerosol often mistaken for water vapor. Vaping is inhaling and exhaling the aerosol produced.
Q: Are there negative effects associated with vaping?
A: The liquid found in vaping devices often contains nicotine which causes addiction and increases abuse potential. Nicotine is toxic to the brain of developing fetuses. It also harms adolescent brain development. The aerosol component of vaping devices has cancer-causing chemicals. Cases of accidental poisoning by the liquids in devices are becoming more common. Defective products can cause explosions and fires.
Q: How do regular cigarettes compare to vaping devices?
A: Smoking a regular cigarette will produce smoke while delivering nicotine to the body. The smoke is a harmful component that contains many toxic agents including but not limited to carbon monoxide and tar; both of which can cause cancer and other diseases. E-cigarettes and other vaping devices contain fewer toxic chemicals when compared to regular cigarettes because there is no smoke. However, they still contain significant levels of harmful substances such as nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, propylene glycol and other cancer-causing agents.
Q: Can e-cigarettes and other vaping devices be used to quit smoking?
A: E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA to quit smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems that e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers (non-pregnant) as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products, but more studies are needed to prove this. Recent CDC studies also found that most adults using e-cigarettes don’t quit smoking, instead, are using both products.
Q: Is there a rising epidemic in the use of vaping device among youth?
In the USA there are several laws put in place to regulate the use of vaping devices. Despite these regulations, the use of vaping devices is increasing among youth. Reports from the CDC indicate that 4.3% of middle school students and 11.3% of high school students have tried vaping in the past month. Vaping devices are produced in various models, including those that look like flash drives. This makes it easier for students to mask its presence. Lack of legislation to stop advertising of vaping products, availability of multiple appealing flavors, easy access are all factors that have contributed to increased use of vaping devices among youth.
Nicotine and other toxic substances, delivered in the form of traditional cigarettes or ENDS are harmful to your health. The best way to avoid these toxic chemicals derived from tobacco use is to stop smoking or vaping.
If you are currently a smoker and would like to quit, please schedule an appointment to see your doctor. There are many resources available to help control cravings and decrease use.
To schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine Doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-6942.
Yogaalakshmi Sundararajan M.D. -Family Medicine Physician
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.