As many have heard in the news as of late, electronic cigarettes, such as the products created by JUUL, are currently under fire from the public. JUUL announced this week that they would suspend most of its flavored e-cigarette pods and even stop its social media campaigns. The company is facing heavy scrutiny due to the rising number of teens lured to the products with candy-like flavors and easy-to-conceal sizes. While this sounds like a step in the right direction, what exactly are the reasons for this uproar against the e-cigarette industry?
To answer this question, I did what I always do, research. I stumped upon the article, “The Dangers of Vaping,” by Janet Raloff of Science News. This publication goes into great detail exposing the many misconceptions that the public has in regards to the safety of electronic cigarettes or as it is commonly referred to as, vaping.
Tobacco is a highly dangerous and addicting substance that impacts our health in a number of horrible ways. The fight against the companies that provide the public with the many ways to use tobacco has always been filled with challenges. These companies, commonly referred to as ‘big tobacco,’ are extremely well funded and employ a strategy of using popular social media and influential figures to entice the younger population into purchasing their products. This, coupled with the tobacco’s addictive nature, creates life-long customers.
This helps explain the impact tobacco has on our society, as well as the high level of revenue that is created every year from tobacco products. It seems as if the only drawback of using these products is the harm it can cause your body, and this concern is ignored most of the time. While e-cigarettes do not actually burn any tobacco, they contain its main chemical, nicotine, which is by itself, highly addictive. With electronic cigarettes, many think they have found a healthy alternative to regular cigarettes; however, they couldn’t be more wrong.
A conventional method for tobacco companies to use in their advertising campaigns is to attract and hook their future customers while they are young. Many of us remember seeing our favorite actors in movies smoking cigarettes as well as the musicians we all admired and embodied. It is no secret that tobacco companies use all sorts of social media to influence the youth to buy their products. Although we have scored many victories reducing the impact they have towards our youth in the form of commercials and advertisements, electronic cigarettes are not affected by these standards yet. An electronic cigarette merely is fluid (which is often flavored and includes nicotine) that is heated to a temperature that changes the liquid to a gas state or better known as, vapor. They also are usually a fraction of the cost of smoking regular cigarettes on a day-to-day basis. With flavors like bubble-gum and cotton candy, as well as the allure of a healthy alternative to foul-smelling cigarette variants, it is no surprise that the youth of today is the target of electronic cigarette use and its health risks.
Taking away the false shroud of a ‘healthy, cost-efficient alternative to smoking’ is the primary purpose of this article; this is important due to the rate electronic cigarettes are becoming widely used, especially with the younger generations. “In the last year, e-cigarette use by U.S. teenagers tripled from 4.5 to 13.4 percent among high school students…” (Raloff, 2015). What is even scarier is that this rise of electronic cigarette users is apparent in middle schoolers as well. This article, and those like it, are necessary as the electronic cigarette market as a whole has had minimal health inspections and are not widely FDA regulated; this creates a product with unknown chemicals, inhaled in an untested manner, with unknown health risks.
The act of vaping instead of actually burning a substance to inhale the nicotine creates the ability for these electronic cigarettes to be enjoyed indoors, as the vapor generated isn’t ‘supposedly’ harmful to others. This, along with the customizable and enjoyable fragrances vaping produces, sets the stage for the popularity of these products to continue to climb with little to interfere with it.
Because nothing is being burned in an electronic cigarette, many people believe they are not inhaling any of the harmful chemicals that cigarettes have. As stated in this article regarding the testing done on the fluid used in electronic cigarettes; this is completely false. After testing the effect vaping has on mice, this article stated that the animals’ lungs showed substantial signs of oxidative stress and inflammation. “Compared with unexposed mice, the vaping mice had a nearly 60 percent increase in inflammatory cells” (Raloff, 2015). The dangers of vaping are made clear by this article, and I believe the majority of readers would agree that there are many deadly dangers of using an electronic cigarette.
There is also new evidence that the process of heating the coil in an e-cig can produce harmful effects from inhaling the vapor created by the hot metal. Additionally, several e-cigs have been reported to actually explode in use, typically with e-cigarettes that have been modified to produce a more substantial ‘hit.’ There are even videos showing these events and the gruesome aftermath (not for the faint of heart).
This article provides the reader with the ability to make an informed decision on the health concerns of vaping as these products are largely untested. The high popularity of electronic cigarettes and the typical low age ranges of the customers create a “cloudy” look at the future. One can only imagine how large the vaping industry could become without the usual drawbacks of a regular cigarette use like a foul odor, high cost, poor taste, as well as the implied health benefits when compared to regular cigarettes.
Hopefully, this article and others like it will educate our youth on the dangers of vaping before they become exposed to it first-hand. Whenever dealing with addictive substances, great caution must be used to ensure the younger generation has the knowledge and confidence needed to stand against them. This article is one of the few that dare stand against the massive industry of electronic cigarettes, and hopefully, it will inspire others to come. While I do love it when companies find new ways to apply technology to products, I don’t think nicotine consumption should be one of them.
Raloff, Janet. 29 June 2015. Science News. “The Dangers of Vaping.” Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/scin.2015.188001019.
Categories: Random Thoughts