1: E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking, but still unsafe.
E-cigarettes heat nicotine (derived from tobacco), flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. The average cigarette contains 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. While we don’t know exactly what chemicals are in e-cigarettes, there’s almost no doubt that vaping exposes you to fewer toxic chemicals than smoking traditional cigarettes.
However, there has been an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths related to e-cigarettes. In February 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or e-cigarette use-associated lung injury (EVALI), resulting in 68 deaths.
The cases appear to mostly affect people who modify vaping devices or use black market modified e-cigarette liquids. This is especially true for vaping products that contain THC.
The CDC has identified vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern for patients with EVALI. Vitamin E acetate, a commonly used thickening agent in THC e-cigarette products, was found in all lung fluid samples of EVALI patients examined by the CDC.
The CDC recommends people:
- Do not use e-cigarettes or vaping products that contain THC.
- Avoid obtaining e-cigarette equipment through informal channels such as friends, family or online dealers.
- Do not modify or add any substances to your e-cigarette device that are not specified by the manufacturer.
A study on e-cigarette ingredients published by Johns Hopkins University in October 2021 revealed thousands of chemical ingredients in e-cigarette products, most of which have not yet been identified. The research team was able to identify several potentially harmful substances, including caffeine, three chemicals never before found in e-cigarettes, a pesticide and two flavorings that could produce toxic effects and respiratory irritation.
2: Research shows e-cigarettes are harmful to the heart and lungs.
Nicotine is the main ingredient in ordinary cigarettes and e-cigarettes and is highly addictive. It can make you crave cigarettes, and if you ignore that craving, you can develop withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine is a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and increases your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of a heart attack.
Are e-cigarettes bad for you? There is still much that is unknown about e-cigarettes, including what chemicals the vapor is made of and how they affect physical health long-term. People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to health. New data suggests links between e-cigarettes and chronic lung disease and asthma, as well as between concurrent use of e-cigarettes and smoking and cardiovascular disease. You're exposing yourself to a variety of chemicals that we don't yet understand and may be unsafe.
3: E-cigarettes are as addictive as traditional cigarettes.
Both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes contain nicotine, which research shows may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. To make matters worse, Blaha says, many e-cigarette users absorb even more nicotine than combustible tobacco products: Users can buy extra-strength pods with higher nicotine concentrations or increase the voltage of their e-cigarettes to get the nicotine content. Material hits harder.
Do e-cigarettes cause smoking?
E-cigarettes and e-cigarettes are sometimes promoted as a way to help smokers quit smoking. But what about the other way around? Will e-cigarettes lead to regular smoking in the future?
4: E-cigarettes are not the best tool for quitting smoking.
Although e-cigarettes are promoted as an aid to help quit smoking, e-cigarettes have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation device. A recent study found that most people who intend to use e-cigarettes to kick their nicotine habit end up continuing to use traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
5: A new generation is becoming addicted to nicotine.
Among young people, e-cigarettes, especially disposable e-cigarettes, are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million U.S. middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2021, and more than eight in 10 teenagers used flavored e-cigarettes.
Three reasons why e-cigarettes are particularly attractive to young people. First, many teenagers believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking. Secondly, the cost per use of e-cigarettes is lower than traditional cigarettes. Finally, young people and adults find the lack of smoke attractive. E-cigarettes are odorless, taking away some of the stigma of smoking.
The most worrying thing about the rise of e-cigarettes is that people who would not otherwise smoke, especially young people, are picking up the habit. It's one thing if you switch from smoking to vaping. Starting to use nicotine through e-cigarettes is another story. Moreover, addiction to nicotine often leads to the use of traditional tobacco products.
CDC research shows that teen vaping has declined since 2020. This trend may be exacerbated by children being stuck at home and under parental supervision during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But these data are tricky because young people often change their preferences and may not be considering using single-use products such as “puff sticks” as e-cigarettes when surveyed. The same CDC report says that since 2019, disposable e-cigarette use has increased by 1,000% among high school students and by 400% among middle school students.
E-cigarettes and the COVID-19 pandemic
Braha said when the coronavirus pandemic first began, data showed a drop in e-cigarette sales, likely because people were spending more time at home and avoiding stores and public areas.
A worrying trend: Rising rates of daily e-cigarette use among all e-cigarette users. The number of people who use e-cigarettes every day used to be one in five, but that's now up a lot, which is worrying because it means more nicotine addiction. I'm following this closely.
Vaping, smoking, and other lung irritants may worsen respiratory problems related to COVID-19.