North Texas Daily

Vaping is threatening to become a public health crisis

Vaping is threatening to become a public health crisis

Vaping is threatening to become a public health crisis
July 23
13:00 2021

The first electronic cigarettes were successfully manufactured and patented in 2003 by Hon Lik, a 52-year-old pharmacist and smoker after his father died of lung cancer. He hoped this would help him quit smoking. It did not.

Known as “vapes,” “pens,” or “carts,” electronic cigarettes were first introduced in the United States in August 2006. What was originally marketed as a cessation tool and healthier alternative to smoking has actually become a step backward for public health.

Anti-smoking sentiment goes back to the early late 1800s and early 1900s when it was fueled by moral and hygienic concerns. It wasn’t until the ‘50s that a link was made between lung cancer and excessive smoking, according to a surgeon general’s scientific study group.

Since then, both the federal and state governments have taken strides to restrict smoking in public areas due to increased knowledge of its consequences for smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke. This made the electronic cigarette very popular. They do not create secondhand smoke, so there would not only be the added level of convenience for the consumer but consideration for the people around them.

The electronic cigarette is a healthier option for those who were around smokers, but not for smokers themselves.

Of course, there is the argument users of electronic cigarettes consume less nicotine but that would relatively cancel out if a person finishes an entire pod in one day. Additionally, nicotine intake is not the only unhealthy aspect of vaping.

While electronic cigarettes are not harmful in the same way that cigarettes are, they still raise health concerns. When we think of cigarettes and the damage they can cause to your lungs, we picture a black-colored lung. All the thick smoke and tar inhaled stick to your airways and cause irreversible damage to parts of your lungs called alveoli.

Electronic cigarettes damage the lungs differently and in some cases, can kill a person sooner than lifelong cigarette smoking. Vaping killed a 15-year-old in Texas when they suffered from an e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung Injury. Dallas County Health Director Dr. Phillip Huang attributes the influx of severe lung damage and deaths to the short-term use of e-cigarettes and vapes.

The damage that takes years of consuming cigarettes is being fast-tracked by these products. For a 15-year-old to die after using these products is in line with the kind of marketing big electronic cigarette companies had planned all along.

In 2019, congressional staffers went through 55,000 documents belonging to Juul Labs, finding that they had planned to expose kids to their high nicotine dosed products, with their marketing directly aimed at the youth.

It isn’t very hard to notice the correlation when Juul pods previously offered flavors like mango or fruit medley. These flavors were banned by the U.S Food and Drug Administration in 2020. Unfortunately, this ban was not as harsh as former President Donald Trump’s original plan and disposable cigarettes like the Puff Bar were exempt.

Puff Bar has increased in popularity among young people due to its wide variety of flavors like “Blue Razz” and “Lychee Ice.” Many of these products are disguised in convenient, discreet packaging and bright colors and flavors. There is no question why products such as Juuls and Puff Bars continue to be so popular.

Electronic cigarettes were not regulated by the FDA until 2009. As a result, they were able to market products that were appealing to children and young adults. This leaves the door open for young adults to consume more than just electronic cigarettes. A study by the Keck School of Medicine at USC found that within six months of vaping, young adults had begun to smoke cigarettes.

Doctors and scientists are still debating whether electronic cigarettes are less harmful or not, but one thing is for sure: we are at risk of trends in smoking going back up. As a country, we hit an all-time low on traditional cigarette smoking in 2018, according to the CDC. But studies and evidence are pointing toward what could be an upward trend in traditional cigarette smoking, potentially undoing almost 100 years of anti-smoking campaigns and initiatives.

This could be very damaging to public health if something isn’t done to regulate and curb the consumption of all nicotine products.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Tania Amador

Tania Amador

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