“Vaping” popular, but potential hazards may be unknown

New studies surface as fast as the popularity of vaping in recent years


Courtesy of Vaping360

Ole Olafson, Senior Audio Producer/SCC

The popularity of e-cigarettes (vaping) has skyrocketed in recent years despite the fact that very little is actually known about the hazards associated with it. In 2016, the American Heart Association released a report entitled “FACTS  E-Cigarettes and Public Health The Next Generation of Cigarettes,” it made a surprising statement.

”Since the Center for Disease Control started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011, the current use of e-cigarettes has surpassed current use of every other tobacco product overall, including conventional cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes first became commercially available in 2004.  They use a battery powered heating element to vaporize a solution commonly called “e-juice”. E-juice generally contains varying amounts of nicotine, water, propylene glycol and/or glycerol and flavoring.

In June, a report titled, “E-Cigarettes a Hazy Hazard” by Cheryl L. Marcham and John P. Springston explained some of the health issues surrounding the use of e-cigarettes, also called ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system).  According to Marcham and Springston, studies concluded that inhaling propylene glycol (the same chemical used to make theatrical fog) can result in several types of respiratory distress.  Furthermore, when glycerol is heated it has been shown to create a certain amount of the carcinogen formaldehyde.  They also explain that nearly all the thousands of flavors of e-juice are created with chemicals used in flavoring foods whose effects when vaporized and inhaled have not been studied.

Nicotine is known to be highly addictive, and the American Heart Association claims it can affect cardiovascular function and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.  Marcham and Springston cite several studies that found nicotine levels in e-juice and e-cigarettes often differ markedly from the product label.  Additionally, the convenience and perceived harmlessness of vaping could cause users to ingest even more nicotine than conventional cigarette smokers.

Kyle Jones, 27, recently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona from Chicago.  He started using ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery System) about two and a half years ago as a way to quit smoking.  Jones agrees with the reports.

“It can be dangerous actually, because you can use it in any situation you want to, so you can find yourself smoking it [ENDS] a lot more,” Jones said.

Tyler Blanchard, also age 27, is an ASU student who’s been using ENDS for three to four months.  He started for much different reasons than Jones.

“Health wasn’t a big factor in my decision,” Blanchard said.  “I don’t like to smell like cigarettes all the time.  It [smoking] made my teeth really yellow.”

Blanchard, who smoked cigarettes since age 16, now finds himself tobacco free.

“It happened to work,” Blanchard said.  “It took me awhile to get used to, like after a few beers or whatever, to not like go smoke a cigarette.  But then after like a week or two it was fine.”

Even though both men started using e-cigs for different reasons neither knew much about the reported hazards associated with vaping.