Vaping is often portrayed as a safe, healthier and less addictive alternative to smoking. But in the past few weeks, we have seen hundreds of people fall sick due to illnesses linked to vaping. So far, this has resulted in six vaping related deaths. So, is vaping really a healthier alternative to smoking? Let’s examine.

First, it’s helpful to understand what vaping is. Vaping utilizes an e-cigarette which consists of a “mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge for containing the e-liquid or e-juice and a heating component. When the device is used, the battery heats up the heating component, which turns the contents of the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs and then exhaled.” The vapor “usually contains a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin-based liquid with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals and metals, but not tobacco.” 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, regular cigarettes contain around 7,000 different chemicals including some toxic ones. While e-cigarettes do contain chemicals, including toxic ones, “there’s almost no doubt that they expose you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes.” In that aspect, e-cigarettes are healthier than regular ones. However, simply because they aren’t as bad for you as cigarettes doesn’t mean they are good for you. Quite the contrary.

Johns Hopkins Medicine also states that, “Nicotine is the primary agent in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes.” It is highly addictive and, “is also a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.” Indeed, many e-cigarette cartridges have an even higher concentration of nicotine than regular cigarettes meaning that vaping is just as or even more addictive than smoking.

Users are also able to add different substances to the vaping fluid including THC, “the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.” Some companies that sell e-cigarettes seem to market their products specifically to younger kids. CNBC reported that, “Vaping companies such as Juul have been criticized for hooking children on e-cigarettes with flavors such as mango and creme.”

The New York Times reports on a study which found that, “e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless; it can expose users to substances known to have adverse health effects, including ultrafine particles, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and other harmful ingredients.” In addition, “The health effects of some of those chemicals are not fully understood, the researchers wrote, even though the products are already on the market.”

As a result of the recent illnesses and deaths linked to vaping, President Trump is considering banning e-cigarettes. The Washington Post reported that, “Trump administration officials, alarmed by new data showing a huge jump in vaping by young people, said they are moving to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, a major development that could result in sweeping changes in the sprawling market.”

President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, gave information on how the ban may be implemented. The Secretary said, “The policy would require most flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, to be removed from the market. The flavored products would not be allowed back on the market until — and if — they receive specific approval from the FDA.”

Now, the recent illnesses and deaths linked to vaping have some government officials urging people to stop vaping. The Hill reports that one of the six deaths linked to vaping occurred in Kansas. This prompted Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment Lee Norman to ask citizens to quite using e-cigarettes until the cause of the illnesses can be determined. Norman said, “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.” 

All of this adds up to dispel the modern myth that vaping is completely safe, has no consequences and that no one should worry about the effects that using e-cigarettes may have. Clearly, vaping is highly addictive, puts harmful chemicals in the body and can cause illness and even death.

Adults and teenagers who may be inclined to vape should consider the harmful effects that using e-cigarettes can have. Vaping is a relatively recent invention, and its full effects have yet to be uncovered. Therefore, people should avoid vaping, particularly while the government investigates the recent spate of illnesses.

In addition, parents must be informed on the potential consequences of their children using e-cigarettes. Vaping is not harmless, and parents should make sure their kids know that.