E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular. The alternative cigarettes have been widely marketed as a ‘healthier’ substitute to cigarettes. ‘Vapes,’ as they are commonly known, have also alarmingly gained a mass following amongst younger generations. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, water, glycerol, propylene glycol and optional flavouring. Due to the increased usage across the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating these products in 2016. E-cigarettes have only been on the market since 2006, given the limited time of their usage, there is little known about their health risks of long-term use.
E-cigarettes are still classified as tobacco products given their nicotine content, this also makes these products as addictive as conventional cigarettes. Besides increasing the potential for long-term nicotine addiction, e-cigarettes have also been linked to significant risks to brain development in teens and young adults. Nicotine changes the way synapses are formed in the brain, which can harm parts of the cerebrum that are largely responsible for attention and learning as well as mood stability and impulse control.
Claims have been made that the use of e-cigarettes ‘protect’ teens from conventional cigarettes, yet there is no evidence to support this suggestion. Those who smoke e-cigarettes have proven more likely to try cigarettes in the future far more than non-smoking youth. The aerosol from these products are also considered dangerous to one’s health. Aerosol contains potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine as well as ultrafine particles that are subsequently inhaled deep into the lungs. The flavoring chemicals, such as diacetyl, used in these products are known to be linked to a lung disease. Dangerous organic compounds, such as benzene, which is found in car exhausts, are also present in these e-cigarettes. To learn more about the risks, click here.