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Vaping: The Future of Smoking? Or a Clandestine Gateway?

by Matthew Perry

There can be no denying that electronic cigarettes (also known as E-cigarettes, E-cigs, or Vaping) are a growing phenomenon for those who choose to smoke. They may be used as a gateway to other forms of smoking by the young; and they may also be used as an alternative to smoking for those who smoke tobacco cigarettes or by those who want to quit smoking.  Since E-cigs are new to the market, the verdict is still out on the long-term side effects of E-cigs, although it has been reported that E-cigs might be safer than tobacco cigarettes (Watson, 2014, WebMD).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 480,000 people die annually from smoking and from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke itself also takes the lives of more than 41,000 people annually through lung cancer and heart disease making smoking a concern for not only those who smoke, but for those who live with or must be around smokers (CDC on Tobacco Studies).

What we know today, is that under low voltages, smoking an E-cig can dramatically reduce the carcinogens that are inhaled when compared to tobacco cigarettes (WEBMD Electronic Cigarettes). Also there is not much, if any, second hand smoke that could be inhaled by others, therefore making an E-cig a safer alternative for households with non-smokers and children. However, while these are significant improvements, we must be realistic and recognize that people who are currently addicted to cigarettes may continue smoking tobacco products no matter what benefits may occur from E-cigs.

Although the E-cig phenomenon seems like a better alternative to smoking, there are some negative and more covert consequences. For example, when E-cigs are smoked at high voltages, levels of formaldehyde can be produced in high concentrations. According to a CBS report, E-cigs can increase formaldehyde containing chemicals at levels up to 15 times more than tobacco cigarettes when the vapor oils inside of the device are burned at a high heat (CBS News Article on Electronic Cigarettes). This high level is what is most typically seen as it produces the most amount of vapor giving E-cig smokers the feeling of actually smoking. One cost to the public is that this device can become a gateway for kids and young adults to get into a cigarette smoking habit because E-cigs have become a cool trend with young adults (WEBMD Electronic Cigarettes). Another negative outcome of E-cig smoking is that people might be more inclined to smoke an E-cig much more frequently than they normally would a tobacco cigarette because they are able to smoke the device indoors in many places, and it is a growing fashion trend of sorts in contemporary culture.

At this point in time, my opinion of electronic cigarettes is that they are a cleaver and much safer alternative for people who are already heavy smokers (e.g., two plus packs per day). It also reduces carcinogens and second hand smoke making them safer for by-standers as long as they are used at low voltages. Hopefully, future regulations will prevent E-cigs from being marketed as a cool trend to kids and young persons. I also want to emphasize that no one should assume that a new device is safe just because it is popular and on the shelves for purchase. Do your research to fully understand what you are putting into your body, and with such a new device as E-cigs, we all will have to wait to see the long-term health risk outcomes of 21st century smoking products.

While I do not condone smoking E-cigs or tobacco cigarettes, I think it is important to shed light on the subject because of the incidence of lung and other cancers, cardiovascular, metabolic, and respiratory diseases resulting from smoking tobacco products. I also think it’s an important topic since lung cancer took the life of such people as our foundation namesake Michael Lange in 2015 and my grandmother in 1987 a few years prior to when I was born.

Check out the links below for more Information:

WEBMD Electronic Cigarettes

CBS News Article on Electronic Cigarettes

Watson (2014) WebMD

CDC on E-cig Info

CDC on E-cig Toxicity

CDC on Tobacco Studies



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