Without Health Answers, Vaping Trends Up For Youth
- Apr 24, 2018 -

Vaping has become one of the biggest trends in America over the past few years. Some polls have stated nearly 40 percent of high school students have tried one, which is more than cigarettes. Vape devices are being viewed as a trend, but new studies show that vaping may be a permanent staple of culture, and new studies show vaping can be just as addictive and dangerous as their cigarette counterparts.

The vaping community is divided as some people view it as a healthy alternative to cigarettes and others viewing it as just as bad.

Cigarettes are known for their high addictiveness and that they cause cancer. Electronic cigarettes were created to be a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes. The one of the most well-known components of a cigarette is the tobacco. E-cigarettes don’t contain any tobacco, but still many contain the addictive nicotine also known in cigarettes. With tobacco out of the mixture it could be believed that electronic cigarettes would be a healthy alternative. This idea has gone back and forth of if it is healthy or if it isn’t, while the popularity of electronic cigarettes raises.  

The biggest concern about vaping is health related. Up until recently electronic cigarettes were viewed as healthy alternatives to smoking cigarettes and could even help you quit smoking cigarettes. Countries like the United Kingdom released a press release along with a study saying e-cigarettes were 95 percent less harmful than normal cigarettes. The study also found that there was no evidence at the time that e-cigarettes would act as a gateway for children and non-smokers into smoking normal cigarettes.  

“E-cigarettes could be a game changer in public health in particular by reducing the enormous health inequalities caused by smoking,” noted Professor Ann McNeil of King’s College in London, one of the independent authors of the study.  

The study showed that nearly half the population, 44.8 percent, didn’t realize that e-cigarettes were at the time thought to be a healthy alternative to normal cigarettes.  

Recent studies have shown this isn’t necessarily the case. A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public Health and published in Environmental Health Perspectives in Feb. 21 of this year shows new dangers to e-cigs. They sampled the e-cigarette devices from 56 daily users of e-cigarettes. They found that electronic cigarettes are a potential source of toxic metals and metals that are toxic when inhaled. The elements found were chromium, nickel, lead, manganese and zinc.  

“The actual levels of these metals varied greatly from sample to sample, and often were much higher than safe limits,” noted Ana M. Rule, Ph.D, MHS and assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins Blomberg school of Public Health and one of the authors of the study. 

The number of young people using e-cigarettes and vaping devices has skyrocketed in recent years. According to studies by the Surgeon General in 2011, only 1 percent of high school girls used e-cigarettes and only 2 percent of high school boys used. By 2015, those numbers raised to 13 percent for high school girls and 19 percent of high school boys. Recent studies are showing that the number is still growing. The popularity can be attributed to a few different aspects. The multitude of flavors can make the vapors taste like candy, alcohol or a plethora of flavors to entice young people. Another major factor is the idea that vaping is safer the normal cigarettes.  

The term vaping covers a few different devices. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are the most common type of vaping device. These are the small portable devices that often look like pens or even real cigarettes. The basic e-cig are the devices that look like normal cigarettes and can often be confused with one. They come in rechargeable and disposable variety. The basic e-cig is broken up into two parts the battery and the cartomizer. The cartomizer is a cartridge and atomizer combined into one unit. The average cartridge last for about the equivalent of 30 cigarettes. 

Vape pens are the most common of the vaping devices. The vape pens are long and thin about the size of a pen for easy storage. They are broken up into three parts the battery, the atomizer and the juice tank, or e-juice tank. The juice tank holds the flavor that is vaporized. Vape pens have a wide variety of flavors such as apple pie, donut, Belgium waffles, different types of cereal, candy and even alcohol. Hookah pens are similar to normal vape pens with one distinct difference. The hookah pen’s juice tank doesn’t have nicotine in it, they just deliver the flavor. 

The newest form of vape device has become a viral sensation: the Juul, a smaller and sleeker vaping device. The Juul is different than the other vape devices in a few ways. The most noticeable difference between the Juul and other vape pens is the fact it looks like a USB drive. It has a USB attachment to charge the battery, making it easier to be unnoticed. It also has its own brand of juice tanks, only usable with the Juul. These juice tanks contain more nicotine then normal vape pens juice tanks. The Juul came to prominence with multiple reports of wide spread use by high school students. Students are attracted to the brand due to the misconception that it is safer then cigarettes and its discreetness. Juuls have become so popular that is has led to new verbiage for teens. Juuling is the act of using the Juul vape, usually on school premises, including in class rooms with teachers present.  

After polling Mercy students, 41 percent of students said they vaped on a somewhat regular basis.  Most said they started it because they wanted to try it or were offered. Out of those who vaped, only 14 percent knew of the health risks associated with vaping. 

“Lotta health risks in the world,” said Denzel Walters, a student at Mercy who vapes.

Nearly 60 percent of students said they did not vape and health risks was not a factor in their decision. A majority of students said they just weren’t interested in using vape products, while one noted he avoided it because he considered it feminine.

The current top selling brand of e-cig devices is Juul with 32 percent market share, according to Nielson, a global measurement and data analysis company. Other major electronic cigarette companies are Aspire, Kandypens and Halo brands. It was reported in 2015, the vaping industry brought in almost $4 billion dollars in the United States alone.  

The history of vaping looks like a modern occurrence, but it actually isn’t. The origins of vaping come from Ancient Egypt. There Egyptians would throw hemp seeds onto hot stones causing them to vaporize and leave a pleasant-smelling vapor. The first e-cigarette was invented in 1927 by Joseph Robinson. It was never commercialized and there is no known prototype for this early e-cigarette but it was patented in 1930 to Roy M. Wolvin. In 1963, the next step in vaping was created by Herbert Gilbert, a Korean war veteran. Gilbert created the first smokeless non-tobacco electronic cigarette. Gilbert’s electronic smokeless cigarette was never put into production. Gilbert attributes the lack of production of his e-cigarette because of forces outside his control. 

“Timing can be everything and I was ahead of my time, and in the midst of what some might say was the most powerful advertising period of big tobacco,” said Gilbert in a 2016 interview.  

The modern e-cigarette was created by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist in 2003. Lik was heavy a smoker before coming up with his version of the e-cigarette, as was Gilbert. Lik credits his e-cigarette to quit smoking and to help other quit after seeing his father succumb to lung cancer as his inspiration to quit smoking.  

Electronic cigarettes began being sold in 2003 in China. In 2006, e-cigs were introduced into Europe and then America. Recently the popularity of e-cigs has boomed. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, vapes became the most popular form of tobacco among young adults. 

“It’s the first uptick in children using tobacco products in a generation. This is a very alarming finding,” CDC Director Tom Frieden in an April 9th 2015 conference call to discuss the CDCs study on tobacco use with high school and middle school children.  

The facts about electronic cigarettes is changing on a rapid basis, and the verdict is still out on health risks, yet the numbers seem to show that youth involvement with vaping is trending up.