Electronic Cigarettes and Their Harmful Nature

Julia Beilis, Journalism Staff Writer

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Teenagers in high schools all over the United States have become addicted to a new form of smoking. However, many people are unaware of the harmful dangers that vaping could create for the human body. Vaping is detrimental and should get just as much recognition for its risks as tobacco cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes, or vaping, are battery-operated electronic devices designed to deliver nicotine and other chemicals in the form of vapor, rather than smoke. Another common name for electronic cigarettes is e-cigarettes. The first patented e-cigarettes were introduced in 1965 by Herbert Gilbert. Gilbert attempted to manufacture these devices, and companies failed to do so. These companies did not believe the dangers of tobacco cigarettes at that time, so they believed these electronic cigarettes were ridiculous and a scam. Therefore, these new cigarettes disappeared from the public eye for 38 years. A modern form of electronic cigarettes were created by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist who happened to be a long-time smoker in 2003. Lik wanted to find a safer alternative for tobacco cigarettes. He released these electronic cigarettes, and they became popular throughout Asia. In the mid-2010s, it has become a phenomenon among teenagers.

To begin, renowned organizations and prominent people in the medical field have issued statements saying that e-cigarettes should be more regulated. In January 2015, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research (two major organizations that focus on cures for specific cancers and medical research) issued a joint statement calling on the federal government (specifically the FDA) to fund further analysis of e-cigarettes and to regulate them more strictly. As of 2016, e-cigarettes are only recognized as tobacco products. These devices also have weak regulations. However, these regulations specifically cover the manufacturer and the retailer of these products. Meaning, there is little regulation on the consumer, who will eventually inhale the dangerous chemicals in the e-liquid inside the electronic pen. According to Tracey M. DiLascio on Points of View: Electronic Cigarette Use, e-cigarettes are loosely regulated by the FDA (when it comes to the consumer). Although there are some forms of restrictions, the FDA has not said vaping is “okay to do.” They are still examining the concept of it, and it may be potentially banned in the future. Detractors also support stronger regulations, pointing out that “safer” does not necessarily mean “safe,” and emphasizing the need for more research to fully understand potential hazards and long-term consequences of e-cigarette use. Overall, the FDA has not considered to place stricter regulation on electronic cigarettes, and although there is not enough research to deem it hazardous, vaping is not exactly the “safer” alternative to tobacco.

To continue, vaping could possibly lead to smoking tobacco among all age groups. According to the article, Points of View: Electronic Cigarette Use by Tracey M. DiLascio, electronic cigarettes claim to “help people quit regular cigarettes.” However, this may lead to kids starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes. In other words, vaping is a gateway to tobacco cigarettes. Additionally, a study in Italy conducted by the International Journal of Public Health written by Lambros Lazuras, Milena Muzi, Caterina Grano, and Fabio Lucidi stated, “Even if exposure to the vapor in public is deemed ‘safe,’ it may promote more favourable social norms towards smoking.” This study also stated that although there was no specific result about e-cigarettes and its dangers over a short time period, publically smoking these cigarettes, however, promote smoking to young children and teenagers. Without a doubt, vaping is dangerous due to its power to be a gateway drug for all age groups, meaning, these cigarettes will lead to tobacco in the future.

Finally, e-cigarettes are just as harmful, and potentially even more hazardous as tobacco cigarettes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, e-cigarettes have as much and possibly more nicotine than tobacco. Nicotine is the component in cigarettes that make them addictive. Over a long period of time, nicotine can cause symptoms such as: comas, depression, a fast and pounding heartbeat (followed by a slow heart rate), rapid breathing, stopped breathing, vomiting, and weakness (MedLinePlus.gov). Electronic cigarettes are possibly more addictive than tobacco cigarettes. To add on, the National Institute on Drug Abuse also stated that if anyone touches, drinks, or sniffs the e-liquid in electronic cigarettes, it could cause nicotine poisoning. According to MedLinePlus.gov, nicotine poisoning can cause seizures and potentially be deadly, although the death cases are rare. Undoubtedly, electronic cigarettes are dangerous and may even be more harmful than tobacco.

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