Is vaping actually bad for you?
No one knows the long-term health impact. Yet. But we do know there are some serious health risks tied to vaping in the short-term.
Everything we know about vaping so far makes us even more concerned about what we don’t know. Since vaping is under-regulated, no one can say for certain what is in vaping devices. Vapes are a relatively new product so all we have are the immediate, short-term effects. Long-term health effects have not been able to be studied.
For now, we know vaping liquids contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals that are linked to heart and respiratory (breathing-related) diseases which can be deadly in the long-term.
Other health related problems tied to vaping include:
But is it really that bad for young people, too?
Vaping can have a negative impact on health—even young, otherwise healthy people.
There have been cases of otherwise healthy teens who have been hospitalized and have even died from vaping-associated lung damage. Also, cases of popcorn lung, nicotine poisoning, battery explosions and lung scarring have been directly related to vaping. All of these can cause serious health issues that cannot be reversed.
The brain is still developing until about age 25. So when your brain is exposed to nicotine, teens especially are at risk for long-lasting effects such as addiction, mood disorders, permanent lowering of impulse control and impacts on attention and learning.
What’s actually in vapes?
When you breathe in on a vaping device, the liquid contains nicotine, additives and chemicals that become a vapor that enters the lungs until you breathe it out. But the “other additives” are chemicals like diacetyl, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals that have been linked to harmful diseases.
Basically, vaping turns E-liquid into vapor or aerosol when you breathe in on a vaping device. The E-liquid is usually a mix of water, flavoring and nicotine. It also includes chemicals that help turn the liquid into the vapor that is breathed in.
Some of the chemicals are:
- Diacetyl, a flavoring chemical linked to popcorn lung
- Volatile organic compounds (some are even found in car exhausts)
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead
E-cigs, vapes, vape pens, dab rigs, tanks, mods, pod-mods, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are all vaping products. 99% of vapes contain nicotine. Some are designed to be used multiple times. Some are designed to create larger clouds of vapor and more nicotine. They all send nicotine, flavorings, chemicals and other substances into your body.
But aren’t vapes FDA-approved?
The FDA authorized—not approved—the marketing of Vuse Solo and their tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods, meaning these particular products can be sold in the U.S. The FDA said this is because these specific products might help adults quit smoking, but they are still unsafe—especially for all youth and people who do not use tobacco products.
Because smoking is so dangerous, the FDA approved the sale of these specific products in the hopes it helps adults who smoke quit smoking. When an adult completely switches from cigarettes to vapes, it may help them quit smoking.
However, less harm does not mean harmless. When announcing the authorization, the FDA said “While today’s action permits the tobacco products to be sold in the U.S., it does not mean these products are safe or ‘FDA-approved.’ All tobacco products are harmful and addictive and those who do not use tobacco products should not start.”
The FDA also denied ten additional Vuse Solo products marketing applications on the same day and has denied more than one million vape applications previously.
I don’t vape enough to get addicted, right?
The brain is still developing until about age 25. Because of this, young people are at a higher risk for developing a nicotine addiction. They have a better memory and can learn faster than adults because their brains are still growing. But, each time you vape your brain is learning. You may think vaping is just a habit, a way to relax or have fun at parties, but you’re teaching your brain to crave nicotine.
Studies show that adults who regularly use tobacco products, no matter what type, almost always started when they were young. And once you’ve developed an addiction, it’s easier for your brain to get addicted to other drugs.
What is EVALI?
EVALI is a type of lung damage from vaping.
EVALI stands for E-cigarette or Vaping use-Associated Lung Injury and is a new, unpredictable illness. Nearly 96% of cases required hospitalization, some leading to death. The CDC launched an investigation into the outbreak in 2019. Learn more about the national outbreak and cases in Louisiana.
What is Popcorn Lung?
Popcorn lung is a type of lung scarring that leads to breathing problems, often caused by flavoring chemicals.
Popcorn lung is caused by breathing in the chemical diacetyl, which has been used to flavor vape products. It is scarring in the lungs and can lead to wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and other breathing problems.
What is nic-sick and nicotine poisoning?
Nicotine sickness or “nic-sick,” can happen when inhaling too much nicotine. Nicotine poisoning, drinking liquid nicotine or vape juice, can lead to more severe health impacts, even death.
Nicotine sickness can come on quickly. If you’re “nic-sick” from vaping, you could experience nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, anxiety, fatigue and even seizures or difficulty breathing, requiring you to go to the hospital.
Nicotine poisoning happens when someone drinks liquid nicotine or even if it comes into contact with skin or eyes. Liquid nicotine is poisonous, and can cause elevated heart rate, vomiting, seizures and difficulty breathing which could result in death. In 2021, more than 5000 deaths caused by nicotine poisoning were reported. It is important to go to the hospital if you have even a small amount of liquid nicotine in your system.