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The Dangers of Vaping Amongst Teens and Young Adults

There is an epidemic that has been sweeping across the nation in recent years. It is an addiction that has come to possess a crippling grip on America’s youth. Had this article been written in any decade other than the 2010s, one would most likely assume that it had something to do with teen drinking or cannabis consumption, but this is not the case. What we’re talking, rather, is the use of e-cigarettes (known colloquially as vapes) a practice that has become quite common amongst teens and young adults in the United States. Originally, e-cigarettes were intended to aid smokers in quitting without going completely cold turkey. However, the products initial purpose would end up taking a back seat while young adults began to use them in recreational manners. The device that was once meant to be a savior instead became one of the most problematic devices the twenty-first century has seen to date because of the long-term health problems it has caused and its controversial sales tactics that seem to be targeted at teens.

For a number of years, very little was known about the long-term effect of electronic cigarettes and other devices of their nature. This was because at that time, they were so new that nobody had been using them for a significant period of time. It was not until somewhat recently that researchers were finally able to test the effect of vaping on the body. As most could have likely guessed, the results have been damning. While it is obvious that vaping does not have a positive effect on the body, one would be lying if they claimed that they knew just how bad it really was. Studies have shown that vaping has an adverse effect on the lungs especially. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that teens that vape are more likely to exhibit symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath (Aubrey 2019).  According to a study from the University of North Carolina, there is also reason to believe that those who vape are more at risk of developing diseases such as COPD, chronic bronchitis, asthma, etc. (Bhatta 2019). Another study from UC San Francisco followed several participants over the course of a few years and found that vaping a smoking significantly increase one’s chances of getting a respiratory disease (Aubrey 2019). In a 2015 study, the effects of all the different chemicals in e-cigarettes were tested on rats in an attempt to gain some sort of an idea regarding what they do to the human body. The key takeaway from the study was that nicotine “has dose-related deleterious pulmonary effects.” Because of this, lungs can become more easily inflamed and also lose their ability to proliferate efficiently (Schweitzer 2015). The study from which this comes from in the American Journal of Physiology puts much emphasis on the way in which exposure to nicotine can affect cell proliferation, which is to say, the creation of new cells through division and growth. This is the root cause of all the possible diseases that go along with vaping. The lungs become more vulnerable and are not easily able to fight off bacteria and harmful material, which leads to rapid deterioration and an increased likelihood of harm. It is from the article (titled Endothelial disruptive inflammatory effects of nicotine and e-cigarette exposure) this research journal that much information was pulled from for this article. This study seemed quite legitimate in my opinion, as the research methodology did not appear to cut any corners. They were transparent throughout, revealing exactly where they attained their chemicals (all of which are present in e-cigarette vapor) and how they went about testing their effects on rats. Although many may consider this in and of itself inhumane, it is a much better alternative than knowingly inflicting humans with harmful substances, making it a valid decision (Schweitzer 2015.

Other than the negative health effects that vaping has been proven to cause, one of the other main qualms that many have about the e-cigarette industry is the way in which they seemingly market to youths. In a randomized trial of the effects of e-cigarette advertisements, adolescents were much more likely to report a possibility of future e-cigarette usage than the control group (Farelly 2015). While these devices were originally intended to help smokers quit and find an alternative, it has become abundantly clear that the companies creating these devices know where the profit lies. This began a few years ago, when companies such as Juul began to come out with pods (cartridges of nicotine vape juice) with sweet fruit flavors. While the argument could very easily be made that this was to please older consumers as well, it is clear that this made teens more likely to take part in vaping, as they did not have to deal with the taste of tobacco and could instead enjoy a pleasant taste. Once they start, it’s very difficult to stop, with many teens developing a dependence on nicotine. This is, in part, why there was a recent ban on fruit flavors in e-cigarettes. However, e-cigarette usage may not be where it ends.

There is a whole new argument that can be made due to the results of the study: vaping has actually led to an increase in teen smoking. Prior to the popularity of vaping, teen smoking was on the decline. Many had begun to realize the negative effects that smoking had on your body and realized that It wasn’t worth it. But then the e-cigarettes came along. They had all the same positive feelings a cigarette gave you but without the disgusting taste. This led people to believe that it was not as bad for you, which is, of course, a lie. Once they have gained a dependence on nicotine, they begin to crave it more and more, leading them to try cigarettes for a more intense sensation.

The recent influx in the use of e-cigarettes is a plague. It is inflicting America’s youth with dangerous diseases and causing a life-long addiction. Although these devices were originally meant to be saviors, they have become anything but.


Aubrey A. Vaping Nicotine Linked To Increased Risk Of Chronic Lung Disease. NPR. 2019 Dec 17 [accessed 2020 Feb 12].

Bhatta DN, Glantz SA. Association of E-Cigarette Use With Respiratory Disease Among Adults: A Longitudinal Analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019;58(2):182–190. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2019.07.028

Farrelly MC, Duke JC, Crankshaw EC, Eggers ME, Lee YO, Nonnemaker JM, Kim AE, Porter L. A Randomized Trial of the Effect of E-cigarette TV Advertisements on Intentions to Use E-cigarettes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2015;49(5):686–693. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.010

Schweitzer KS, Chen SX, Law S, Demark MV, Poirier C, Justice MJ, Hubbard WC, Kim ES, Lai X, Wang M, et al. Endothelial disruptive proinflammatory effects of nicotine and e-cigarette vapor exposures. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. 2015;309(2). doi:10.1152/ajplung.00411.2014

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