The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 1,080 patients in 48 states and the US Virgin Islands have developed lung illnesses associated with vaping. At least 18 people have recently died from using vaping products.
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that resemble pens or USB flash drives. The devices heat a liquid that vaporizes into an aerosol that the user inhales. A significant number of patients have experienced respiratory illnesses from vaping nicotine and cannabis. One puff generates a distinctive cloud of steam which lingers in the air.
At Chabot College, Janette Muñoz, Student Health Clinic Supervisor, says she is very concerned about the increase in youth becoming addicted to nicotine. “It seems like [e-cigarette] commercials are targeting young users more and more,” says Muñoz.
A sophomore Chabot student, who preferred not to be named, said he has been vaping flavored pods for one year. He thinks the news coverage is sensational and pertains to heavy users only.
However, experts disagree. The American Lung Association asserts that “even in small doses, inhaling the two primary ingredients found in e-cigarettes — propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin — is likely to expose users to a high level of toxins and that the more ingredients a user is inhaling, the greater the toxicity.”
Common ingredients in e-cigarettes include nicotine, flavorings, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-an active ingredient in marijuana), and toxins. Other ingredients include benzene (an organic compound found in car exhaust), heavy metals such as lead, and the herbicide acrolein (used to kill weeds).
People who vape may experience chest pains, shortness of breath, coughing, diarrhea or nausea. The CDC recommends that anyone who experiences any of the above symptoms after vaping should contact their physician as soon as possible.
The unnamed sophomore at Chabot started vaping to stop smoking cigarettes and plans to quit vaping in six months.
E-cigarettes were marketed as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, and as a tool to stop smoking. In fact, no US studies have proven that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking for young adults.