Over the last decade, vaping has become a largely popular alternative to smoking. Whether you’re vaping nicotine or you’re vaping cannabis, the allure of the vaporizer has grown and grown. In short, people believe that these devices are healthier, easier and more accessible than smoking products. However, as more research comes out, it seems that our initial ideas about vaping may be being challenged.
This year, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have reported that common e-cig brands like Juul could be altering the inflammatory stage in major organs, such as the heart, lung, colon and brain. We’ll be delving deeper into this report, as well as shining a light on the world of vaping. Is it actually healthier than smoking?
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Some people believe that vaping began as early as 2000 BC when the ancient Egyptians used to heat hemp seeds on hot rocks and inhale the vapour that came from them. Whilst the vaporizer device did not exist then – as well as much of what makes the modern world – the concept is pretty much the same. Modern vaping culture began as early as the 1960s, when nicotine aerosol generation devices were created. However, it wasn’t until 2003 that the Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the modern e-cigarette device. The Guardian Writes:
“Hon devised the gadget to quit smoking and talks of the “global social problem” he believes he can help solve. Yet he has sold his rights to big tobacco, which many in the public health community in the UK believe is using e-cigarettes as a stalking horse, with the covert objective of renormalising smoking. Hon – a quiet, undemanding man – sees no contradiction.”
The sad truth is that, in a capitalist society, the world is run by money. Therefore, whilst vaping may be believed to be better for you than smoking, many of those who run these vaping companies consist of the same people who previously promoted smoking. Nonetheless, the facts are that the vaping market is booming. In the US, the market was worth 6 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow 27% every year from now until 2028. In America, the Juul brand of e-cigarette is the largest, holding around 42% of the market. Vuse comes in close second with around 36% of the market. However, in this most recent report, it is Juul that has been put in the firing line. We’ll explain exactly why later.
What is Vaping?
It is important to understand what vaping is and how it works, in order to comprehend how vaping can or cannot damage one’s health. As Hon Lik had wanted, vaping does without a doubt help people quit smoking. Some, of course, like to do both. But for many users, vaping has offered a healthier alternative that still quenches the habit. In the UK, it is believed that around 50,000 smokers a year quit through the use of vaporizers. But how does it work?
A vaporizer is an electronic device that usually heats up either nicotine or cannabis. In relation to nicotine, the substance will be in a liquid form and will be heated and turned into vapour, which is then inhaled by the consumer. The liquid is never usually heated much hotter than around 570 F. To put this into perspective, the average cigarette will burn at around 1600 F. It’s this major difference that makes vaping a healthier alternative than smoking. When cigarettes are lit, they take part in the process of combustion. Fire is created. This process can put users at risk of various health conditions. PMI writes:
“The high temperatures trigger the generation of more than 6000 different chemicals, many of which are harmful or potentially harmful. Public health authorities have classified several smoke constituents as the likely causes of smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema.”
Vaping avoids the process of combustion and, in turn, is healthier in that sense. However, that’s not the only reason why vaping is considered appealing. As the market has grown, vaporizers have also become far more accessible, cheaper and easy to use. On average, vaporizers have a lower per-use cost than cigarettes do. In addition, you no longer need to purchase each individual part of a cigarette or even find a lighter, instead, you simply inhale. Plus, due to the avoidance of fire smoke, e-cigs do not leave the same resented smell on the fingers or the breath. Not only do vapes not have the same smell as cigarettes, but it’s also known that smoke clouds stick to clothes and objects far more easily than vape clouds do. Mayor Clinic writes:
“Thirdhand smoke clings to clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces long after smoking has stopped. The residue from thirdhand smoke builds up on surfaces over time”
There are many positives to vaping over smoking and this is undoubtable. However, that’s not to say that vaping is completely healthy. That would be far from the truth. There was once a time when smoking cigarettes was believed to be good for you and now look what’s happened. Vaping is still a very new concept in the grand scheme of things, so perhaps we are only one damning report away from altering our perception of it forever.
The problem is this. Vaping came about as a replacement for smoking, and as a way to help people stop the dangerous habit of smoking. However, there’s currently nothing in place to then stop someone from vaping. The existence of vaping replaces one habit with another, rather than deals with the habit itself. This, in a way, would be reasonable if vaping waas 100% risk free. But it is not. The first thing to note is that nicotine, as a substance, on its own, is unhealthy. Whether you smoke it or vape it, nicotine is an addictive and damaging stimulant drug. It increases adrenaline, raises blood pressure and heart rate, and makes it more likely to have a heart attack. Not to mention that its addictive nature makes you want to consume it again and again.
Vaping does also have health risks and – as vaping is becoming increasingly popular – more reports are coming out now than ever before.Hopkins Medicine writes:
“There has been an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths associated with vaping. In February 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) and 68 deaths attributed to that condition.”
EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury) is a new name for an issue that is now becoming more prominent for vape users.
In a recent study at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, they discover that daily use of e-cigarette products – like Juul – can have severe health risks. Neuroscience reports what the study concluded:
“Use of pod-based e-cigarettes alters the inflammatory state across multiple organ systems including the brain, heart, lungs and colon. Effects also vary depending on the e-cigarette flavor, and can influence how organs respond to infections, such as SARS-CoV-2”
It’s important to note that this study was not tested with badly designed, dodgy vapes, but top of the range popular Juul products. The team of researchers exposed adult mice to flavoured Juul vape products three times a day for three months and were shocked by the level of inflammation in the body. The inflammation occurred in the colon, heart, lungs and the brain.
“Many JUUL users are adolescents or young adults whose brains are still developing, so it’s pretty terrifying to learn what may be happening in their brains considering how this could affect their mental health and behavior down the line,”
What was even more interesting was that each flavour of Juul product seemed to alter the damage. But either way, the reports highlighted the genuine health problems caused by vaping. There is no doubt that the chemical balance of these major organs are being altered by these vape products, and are putting the users at risk.
As more research is done, it is inevitable that vaping will reveal itself to be far less healthy than we once believed. However, it is probably fair to say that, ultimately, it’s better for you than smoking is. Perhaps as a society we should be focusing on how to end addiction and habits, rather than simply finding something slightly less addictive to fill the void. What do you believe?
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