Vaping has become extremely popular in the past decade, especially among teenagers and young adults. As vaping is a new trend, at first there was no research on short and long term effects. Vaping is often touted as a “less harmful” alternative to smoking, to help people quit. However, vaping has its own harmful effects just as smoking does.
Nicotine is just as addictive in a vape as in a cigarette. Vaping can last about 20 minutes of more, in comparison to just a few minutes with cigarettes. This means that vape users trying to quit nicotine are actually getting more of it in a vape and remaining just as addicted.
Potential effects of Vaping on the lungs
Next, we should discuss the effect vaping has on the lungs and the risks of inhaling from vapes. The vape juice contains either marijuana, nicotine, and/or flavours (cotton candy, watermelon, strawberry) combined with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine. While glycol and glycerine are harmless to ingest, inhaling these components into the lungs is harmful. When heated, these mixtures can actually create new chemicals through the heating process, such as “formaldehyde and other contaminants such as nickel, tin and aluminum” (Canadian Lung Association).
According to the Canadian Lung Association, vaping can cause serious lung disease and is not an effective way to quit smoking or quit a nicotine addiction. Rather, it has created nicotine addictions for many young people.
Additionally, many ingredients in vape juices have only been tested as safe for ingestion, not for inhalation. The health risks associated with using them for long term inhalation are unknown. Vaping can also worsen asthma, create lung damage, disease, and changes associated with cancer development (CLA).
One potential harmful effect of vaping is popcorn lung. Popcorn lung or obliterative bronchiolitis, is a result of inhaling chemicals, such as diacetyl, a chemical once used to flavour popcorn (Medical News Today). Other chemicals or lung infection can cause popcorn lung, as well as inhaling the fumes used in the production of popcorn, candy, and chips. Many vapes juices contain diacetyl for the flavours. According to a study mentioned in Medical News Today, 39 out of 51 brands of flavoured vape juice contained diacetyl, and most of these brands also contained toxic chemicals such as acetoin and pentanedione. What happens to the lungs from popcorn lung? The tissue scars and the damage is irreversible. There is no current cure for popcorn lung, but there are treatments.
Overall, there are many harmful effects of vaping just as there are with inhaling smoke and other chemicals.