“To Vape, or Not to Vape, That is the Question”

A Discussion of Attitudes Towards Vaping

Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana: all substances that have been employed by various youth and adolescents over the years. Now, vaping is the growing trend among young adults. Vapes and e-cigarettes were initially created as a tool to help cigarette smokers quit smoking but quickly become a trend among children as young as 12-years-old (Arnold, 2014). 

While there are various brands of e-cigarettes and vapes, they all function in a similar manner. A sensor inside of the e-cigarette detects airflow and initiates a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution containing propylene glycol (organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2), the flavouring of choice, and nicotine (Danielsen, 2016). 

Currently, there is very little research on the effects of propylene glycol, but it is generally recognized as “safe” (Danielsen, 2016). With this being said, we are seeing an increasing number of horror stories regarding serious illnesses and deaths linked to vaping and e-cigarettes. A 2019 article released by CBC states that a federal investigation is being conducted in the U.S regarding 450 cases of serious lung illness linked to the use of vaping and e-cigarettes (Zafar, 2019).  Currently, there is no evidence to confirm a causal relationship between vaping and serious illness, physicians are concerned about acute nicotine toxicity (Arnold, 2014) which results in symptoms like agitation, rapid heartbeat, seizures, nausea and vomiting. 

Health professionals and physicians are not the only concerned parties. Current Redeemer students express their opinions surrounding the dangers of vaping, saying “If you haven’t started, don’t. It’s fun once you do, but it’s not worth it. I like it now because the nicotine relieves stress —but I had other ways to cope with stress prior to vaping. It is fun to do tricks, but again, probably not worth the risk”.  

Some students have quit vaping, not wanting to jeopardize their health, “My grandpa smoked for most of his life and now he has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and cannot walk anywhere without his air tanks. I saw the news articles about teenagers who vaped until their lungs become the condition of 70 year-olds, and that scared me”.

Even with all the recent studies, some students aren’t persuaded: “I am not convinced that vaping is harmful. The reports of people dying from vaping have been caused by individuals who have modified their vapes in harmful ways. While vaping does have the same active ingredient (glycerol) that causes popcorn lung, it is nearly impossible to expose yourself to enough glycerol to cause it through vaping”. 

Vaping and e-cigarettes are still relatively novel to the smoking industry, so our knowledge about these products is fairly limited. However, it’s important to remember that throughout history “harmless” substances like DDT, cigarettes, thalidomide, and others have been proved to be detrimental after a while. So, perhaps the attitude we must take when considering vaping is “better to be safe than sorry”.