Electronic cigarettes and vaping have become increasingly popular over the last several years. But no matter where you stand in the debate about whether an e-cigarette is healthier than a traditional cigarette, there’s no denying that both are extremely efficient at delivering nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, into our bodies.
Here’s a short Q&A that highlights the reasons public health officials are so concerned about vaping.
How does an e-cigarette work?
Basically, an e-cigarette is a battery-powered vaporizer that uses a liquid that contains flavorings, nicotine and other additives to create an aerosol that the user inhales.
Is an e-cigarette healthier than a traditional cigarette?
That is the big question, and we don’t have a great evidence-based answer because there just isn’t much research. It seems that if smokers of traditional cigarettes inhale less smoke, then that’s a good thing. In theory, if all smokers switched to e-cigarettes, lives would be saved. But this means that current smokers must completely quit combusted cigarettes and switch to e-cigarettes. Smoking even a few regular cigarettes per day is dangerous to your health.
So why is there so much concern about e-cigs from public health officials?
The problem with e-cigarettes is that they can still cause an addiction to nicotine. There is some evidence that e-cigarette use is likely to lead to smoking traditional cigarettes for youths. And among adults, there is concern that using e-cigarettes prolongs the addiction to traditional cigarettes. There’s also some evidence that using e-cigarettes makes it less likely that smokers will quit traditional cigarettes.
But even more concerning is that we don’t know the ingredients in the aerosols being inhaled with the nicotine. Will it have long-term health effects? We just don’t know. Combine that with the sharp increase we’ve seen in the number of youths who are using e-cigarettes, and you can see why public health officials are so concerned.
Define the “sharp increase” in the number of youths using e-cigs.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, in 2011, 1 in 20 high school students reported ever using e-cigarettes and 1 in 50 high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. In the 2014 survey, more than 1 in 4 U.S. high school students reported ever using e-cigarettes, and more than 1 in 8 had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
How does nicotine affect youths?
Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote nicotine addiction, and lead to long-term tobacco use – making any use of these products among our youths a major concern. The fact that the juice used in e-cigs is flavored and appealing to younger people makes it especially concerning. Bubble-gum or strawberry-flavored juice tastes good, but it still packs a nicotine punch. And nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.
- Project Filter: http://projectfilter.org/
- E-cigs and youths: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/youth-intentions/index.htm