Beware the health impacts of vaping

Published 10:04 am Monday, September 2, 2019

Vaping has been in the news this week. So, what exactly is vaping. The Center on Addiction defines vaping as “the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.”
In 2017, 5.8% of adults in Tennessee used e-cigarettes and 6.0% used smokeless tobacco. In 2017, 11.5% of high school students in Tennessee used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 13.2%.
The Knox County Health Department confirmed Wednesday that it had found a case of respiratory illness associated with vaping in the county, and a local teen said there may be more cases out there, including himself.
Doctors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are seeing more and more kids and teens with lung and respiratory injuries from using e-cigarettes.
In the last six months, Vandy doctors have seen four cases of e-cigarette injuries.
According to the surgeon general, “Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.”
Additionally, the CDC is investigating more than 149 people, primarily teens and young adults, who have been hospitalized with severe lung disease after vaping.
The makers of e-cigarettes promote use of e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, but there is limited evidence that this is true, and there are other proven, safe and effective ways for quitting smoking.
Vaping remains a relatively new phenomenon, perceived by some as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Health officials continue to face an uphill battle to combat those ideas, specifically among teenagers, who are easy targets for marketers of the products.
However, the latest headlines around vaping, which surfaced last week, should give anyone considering using those products a reason to pause.
Due to legislations passed this year by the Tennessee Legislature, schools will be able to deal with vaping the same as with tobacco products under a new law supported by the Tennessee School Boards Association. That means they may ban vapor products anywhere that smoking or tobacco products are prohibited on school campuses. The law also doubles to more than 100 feet the distance from any school entrance that an adult staff member may smoke. And it prevents smoking on any campus after regular school hours.
Change is never easy and asking folks to take their smokes outside met with considerable resistance at the time tobacco was banned from public buildings. But the science was there then, and today literally everyone believes that secondhand smoke carries with it considerable health risks.
There’s still much that is unknown about vaping and its long-term health effects. But if the latest health scare is any indicator, it’s best for everyone to avoid the products.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox