27 May 2018
Latest Craze Causing a Haze
Humans have smoked tobacco for hundreds of years; only recently have people become aware of the negative effects. Nowadays, everyone knows between pesticides and tobacco itself, smoking cigarettes releases hundreds of chemicals into the lungs, leaving tar and carcinogens causing mouth, throat, and lung cancer. Despite the risk, strong nicotine and behavioral dependence makes it difficult to quit smoking without assistance. Recently invented electronic cigarettes and vapes deliver smokers nicotine without burning tobacco. Companies claim electronic cigarettes are clean alternatives to traditional cigarettes, but without long-term research supporting this claim, many consumers are skeptical. Some users believe electronic cigarettes and vaping are safer than smoking tobacco products, but they are still dangerous to human health.
Electronic cigarettes and vaping only recently emerged as cultural icons, partly due to intense marketing, which further recruits a larger population to the activity. Current generations exercise more health-conscious choices compared to their parents and grandparents; according to Eck, vaping companies market electronic cigarettes as safe alternatives to traditional tobacco products, which attracts young people. “In an advertisement for V2 Cigs … Mathew Huebner, [MD] … implies that vaping is as harmless as boiling water,” which, according to research later discussed, is not true (Wanjek). Marketers connect viewers to products by incorporating relatable content and employing well-known people to advertise. In a popular commercial for blue eCigs “celebrity Jenny McCarthy … encourages young adults to vape, enlisting words such as ‘freedom' and the promise of sex” (Wanjek). Electronic cigarettes thrive on marketing directed to younger generations, coupled with a suspicious lack of supporting research. Trendy product designs attract minors to electronic cigarettes and vapes, despite age restrictions at time of purchase. Already, children accidentally exposed to electronic cigarette solutions via skin has forced many children to receive emergency medical attention (E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products). Now, product marketing recruits an increasing population of electronic cigarette and vape users, to also include minors.
Perhaps one of the more dangerous attractants of electronic cigarettes to children are the flavors. Raloff states “flavorings were banned from regular cigarettes years ago” because children found them appealing, but no similar regulations have been enacted to protect minors from vapes. Despite flavorings reputation for causing diseases such as popcorn lung, “the younger generation [is] unconcerned about the potential dangers,” convinced the taste conveys safety (Raloff). It may even be the promoting factor for youths' experimenting with electronic cigarettes (Konkel). The flavored Juul devices are especially adapted to high school campuses, with three times as many middle and high school students using electronic cigarettes in 2015 (Raloff). Without careful observation, Juuls are indiscernible from common flash drives; high school students easily sneak puffs from Juul devices during and between classes. The convenience of electronic cigarettes establishes nicotine addiction in minors much earlier than they may purchase tobacco cigarettes. Recreational use of vape devices encourages smoking behavior into adulthood.
Companies originally designed electronic cigarettes to transition traditional cigarette smokers onto safer alternatives (Raloff). Products pioneering the field of non-tobacco cigarettes were near flavorless but, per intention, delivered users nicotine – “a highly addictive compound” (Radcliff). Ideally, users of electronic cigarettes could adjust their personal levels of nicotine to reduce or eliminate their dependence on the drug. Nowadays, “most users are unaware of the presence of nicotine in electronic cigarettes” (Scutti). Regular smokers puff an average of 12 times per cigarette; heavy user smoking a 20-cigarette pack daily would then exercise about 240 puffs (Hardy). However, electronic cigarette users puff up to 900 times a day. According to Hardy, “smoking cigarette[s] make[s users] feel satisfied,” but “electronic cigarettes may not give that same feeling of satisfaction,” thus, depending on their personal nicotine levels, users may intake many times more the usual daily amount. Behavioral dependence antagonizes nicotine addiction. Radcliff has also linked nicotine to reductions in oxygen delivery to the heart and brain by “increas[ing] heart rate and blood pressure.” More severely, electronic cigarettes and vapes have the potential to “increase risk of heart attack[s] and stroke[s]…in people with underlying heart and brain vessel diseases” (Radcliff). Nicotine addiction, provoked by convenience and increasing recreational use, is only one adverse effect smoking electronic cigarettes has on human health.
Electronic cigarette devices and ingredients constituting liquids are dangerous to humans. Vaping does not burn tobacco to deliver nicotine to the user; flavored electronic cigarette solution is instead vaporized and inhaled. If the solutions only contained water and nicotine, there would be no warrant for medical alarm. However, when devices heat ingredients in electronic cigarette solutions, they decompose into chemicals which are toxic to the respiratory system (Clapp). Traditional tobacco cigarettes smokers transition to vape devices to receive nicotine while escaping cancer-inducing chemicals. Unknown by many, vapors produced by electronic cigarettes expose the lungs to carcinogens” as well. Additionally, devise use heated metal coils which release “dangerous levels of lead, chromium, manganese, and nickel,” which are inhaled during use, exposing lungs to heavy metals (E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products). Proponents of electronic smoking argue devices and ingredients are safe for human use, but there has not been enough research to negate the potential health risks due to exposure (Clapp). With many young people using vape devices to explore healthier options than traditional tobacco cigarettes, companies must market to overcome the apparent lack of supporting evidence for safety.
In addition to the previously mentioned conditions – popcorn lung and nicotine addiction, vapors from electronic cigarettes induce a myriad of adverse health effects requiring medical attention. Vapors enter the body through the mouth, travel the upper respiratory track into the lungs, and are exhaled back through the mouth or nose, exposing every surface along the way to chemicals and heavy metals. Electronic cigarette users often complain of “bleeding mouths and throats” which seem “slow to heal,” promoting gum disease or even tooth loss (Konkel). Injuries to the mouth may further complicate eating, leading to malnutrition and infection. In vitro, cells exposed to electronic cigarette flavorings disrupted normal replications rates, and higher doses killed cells (Hardy). Without normal cellular reproduction, adult tissues may deteriorate faster, minors may experience inhibited growth, and neither will repair damaged tissues promptly. Damage to lungs caused by vaping induces inflammation which renders cells exposed to infection by pathogenic bacteria and viruses (Raloff). Without listing an entire textbook of adverse health effects, one can easily note the widespread damage of electronic cigarettes and vaping to the human body.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dangerous substances, like traditional tobacco cigarettes, to reduce disease and mortality. Despite the extensive list of health problems, the FDA has yet to launch regulations for electronic cigarette devices or liquids (Clapp). Perhaps this phenomenon explains the inclusion of dangerous, usually unlisted ingredients in products, as well as their availability to minors. In the last few years, electronic cigarettes evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry; devices are sold in gas stations, online, and in dedicated physical locations. According to Jain, “some of the most popular E-cigarette brands are owned by Big Tobacco” which assumes a new identity, “Big Vape.” With the latter industry siphoning the market of the former, “Big Tobacco effectively controls its own competition” (Jain). Without regulations on ingredients or devices, manufacturers use cheap materials and unreliable techniques. More profitable labor has shifted assembly to China, where loose laws regarding manufacturing increases “mounting pressure to regulate them just as traditional tobacco products” (Hardy). Unless the FDA institutes some reform, electronic cigarettes and vaping will become increasingly more dangerous as cheaper manufacturing locations, techniques, and materials emerge.
Although many people accept electronic cigarettes and vaping as safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes, they are still dangerous to human health. Many have shamed smoking tobacco for almost a century for being unhealthy and addicting. Behavioral dependence in puffing activity increases nicotine addiction in users, directly affecting health. Marketing towards young individuals established a large demographic of recreational users, often underaged. Trendy designs and flavors decrease the awareness of unhealthy effects on the body. Flavors, in addition to chemicals in solutions, when heated, decompose to produce harmful vapors which users inhale into the lungs. Heavy metals and chemicals entering the respiratory system may behave carcinogenically and induce cancer in the mouth, throat, and lungs. Amongst a myriad of other problems, smoking electronic cigarettes has immense adverse effects on human health. Despite stacking research on the negative effects of smoking electronic cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to regulate the distribution or production of devices or solutions. Meanwhile, the market shifts manufacturing to countries with cheap, mostly unregulated labor, such as China. While marketers claim electronic cigarettes are healthier than tobacco products, with growing evidence of negative bodily effects and no prospect of regulation, vaping does not seem a safe alternative for traditional smokers.
Works Cited and Consulted
Clapp, PW, and I Jaspers. “Electronic Cigarettes: Their Constituents and Potential Links to Asthma.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 5 Oct. 2017.
Eck, Allison. “The FDA Is Cracking Down on the 'iPhone Of E-Cigarettes'.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 27 Apr. 2018.
"E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, Accessed 19 May 2018.
Hardy, Susan. “To Vape, or Not to Vape?” Endeavors, UNC Research, 7 Aug. 2014.
Jain, Tanusree. "Why the e-cigarette industry needs global regulations." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Accessed 19 May 2018. Originally published as "Why the e-cigarette industry needs global regulations," The Conversation, 29 Jan. 2018.
Konkel, Lindsey. “Concerns Explode over New Health Risks of Vaping.” Science News for Students, 13 Apr. 2018.
Radcliff, Nina. "E-cigarettes Are Far from Harmless." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Accessed 19 May 2018. Originally published as "Why e-cigs are safer, but not safe," Washington Times, 1 July 2015.
Raloff, Janet, and Beth Mole. “Vaping May Harm the Lungs.” Science News for Students, Science News Media Group, 15 Aug. 2017.
Scutti, Susan. “Teen Develops 'Wet Lung' after Vaping for Just 3 Weeks.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 May 2018.
Wanjek, Christopher. "It Is Too Early to Determine E-Cigarettes as a Safe Alternative to Smoking." Tobacco and Smoking, edited by Roman Espejo, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints. Accessed 19 May 2018. Originally published as "E-Cigarettes Just More Smoke and Mirrors, Doctors Say," 21 Nov. 2013.
...(download the rest of the essay above)