The Untold Truth About E-Cigarettes: Vaping Epidemic

By Sarah El-Bashir & Sophia Livelsberger

Pharmacy Technology II


Many believe that vaping is safer than using regular cigarettes, since their initial purpose was to get smokers off of tobacco.  A 2015 poll conducted by the Community Anti-Drug Organization showed that 66% of teen vapors believe that the flavoring is the only ingredient in their e-cigarette, while 13.7% don’t even know what they are inhaling! This is mainly due to the companies not being required to report the ingredients used to create these addicting products. However, the lack of knowledge the users have about vaping and its use being considerably new on a larger scale resulting in less research, has many teens believing the products are safe. The current deaths linked to vaping is growing exponentially daily, resulting in lawsuits and certain products being banned. The question remains: Are e-cigarettes really the safer alternative?

What are E-Cigarettes?

 Modern e-cigarettes were officially invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. Although, the tobacco companies have been producing nicotine aerosols, an addictive spray, ever since 1963. Vaping is considered to be a type of e-cigarette with an aerosol. These aerosols were meant to transfer the cigarette users off of the tobacco products. However, with e-cigarettes still containing nicotine, many cigarette users claim that e-cigarettes only got them more addicted, especially with the variety of flavors that they can come in. Just a few to mention are bubblegum, fruit flavors, ice cream flavors, cotton candy, and more. This presents a new problem: teen usage. CNBC reported that more than 1 in 4 high schoolers have recently vaped. This brings the percentage to 27.5%. 

E-cigarettes can be a variety of appearances; some appear to be a replica of cigarettes, some look like flash drives, some are a bulky rectangular object, and others are now embedded into Vaprwear clothing to help teens secretly vape. So if you see a teen sucking on the end of their hoodie string, chances are that they may be vaping. Parents and teachers should be weary of the names e-cigarettes can go by such as e-cigs, e-hookahs, vapes, vape pens, tanks systems, or mods. 

What’s in E-Cigarettes?

Vaping contains more chemicals than cigarettes. Common chemicals that are found in E-Cigarettes is vitamin E acetate, nicotine, heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead, also diacetyl which has been linked to lung disease. Would you want to ingest these chemicals? Nicotine affects the frontal cortex in a negative way by causing adolescents growing mind to not be able to learn or focus. Nicotine also affects the heart by increasing the blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart, and narrowing the arteries in the heart. 

One pod or 200 puffs in an E-Cigarette is equal to a whole pack of cigarettes. Some E-Cigarettes can contain as much as three times the amount of nicotine that is found in a single box of cigarettes. E-cigarettes are said that they are supposed to contain CBD, a chemical derived from the non psychoactive part of cannabis, but many tests have shown THC from the company cutting costs and not getting the product tested. In September,Tyler Huffhines, a Winsconsin man, was convicted for selling fake THC pods inside his home and then exporting them out to customers. He sold thousands of vaping cartridges, and distributed more than 10,000 grams of THC to the public. Huffhines products claimed to have 5 milligrams of THC in each cartridge but others claim it was much more. 

Symptoms That Occur From Using E-Cigarettes 

E-Cigarettes can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and cough. Other symptoms that can show up due to vaping is increased salivation, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, confusion and sometimes agitation. Serious side effects include coma, seizures, slowed heart, and even respiratory failure. Respiratory systems include difficulty breathing, asthma, and symptoms of bronchitis. Many people who came to the hospital with a vape related illness were noted to have a rare form of pneumonia, fluid or fat deposits in the lungs. 

Deaths Linked To E-Cigarette Use 

As of October 27th, E-Cigarettes have claimed the lives of 34 people and that number continues to grow everyday. The use of E-Cigarettes has now led to approximately to 1,479 cases to be reported in the United States. Many people that ended up the hospital have had a history vaping THC. 80% of cases are occurring in people younger than 35 years old. The CDC warns that minors and pregnant women should stay clear of E-Cigarettes. As of October 27th the deaths have occurred in 24 states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas, US Virgin Island, Montana, Tennessee, Connecticut, and New York. 

E-Cigarette Cases

  E-Cigarettes have the history of being known to explode and catch on fire. In January of 2019 a texas native was vaping in his car when his E-Cigarette exploded and caused it to tear the carotid artery which ended up killing him. Doctors claimed that he died from a cerebral infarction and herniation after the debris from the E-Cigarette destroyed the left carotid artery. Another case was a teenager in Utah that had his E-Cigarette device explode in his mouth and this caused his jaw to break and most of his teeth to be knocked out. This caused the doctors to wire his jaw shut for 6 weeks to give it time to heal. These were not the only cases since there have been 195 cases of separate E-Cigarette fires and explosion accidents in the US between 2009 and 2016. On October 9th, a 17 year old kid died in Bronx, New York due to vaping related illnesses. He is the youngest person to die due to vape illnesses. About one third of vaping related illnesses have occurred among people age 21 or under. 

Study shows cancer in mice that were exposed to E-Cigarette Vapor

New conducting research done at New York University have recently shown that E-Cigarettes cause mice to get lung cancer and bladder cancer. This leads New York University researchers to believe that E-Cigarettes can also be damaging to humans. The researchers at NYU also found that within the 40 mice that were exposed with E-Cigarette vapor with nicotine in it for 54 weeks, 22.5% developed lung cancer and 57.5% developed precancerous lesions in the bladder. The amount of smoke that the mice were exposed to during the 54 weeks would be equivalent to 3-6 years of vaping in humans. 

Ship Building New Port and Texas A & M 

New Port and Texas A & M block E-Cigarette devices on property. John Sharp, the system chancellor, announced the ban on October 3rd. The ban is meant for facility and property such as building, outside space, laboratory, parking lots and garages. Thirteen states already have statewide bans on E-Cigarettes. The ship building in new port has banned E-Cigarettes. The ship building company is no longer going to be allowed to use, possess, or store E-Cigarettes and vaping devices. This comes after a higher amount of E-Cigarette use has been shown inside and outside of the shipyard. 

The Response

All this research being done has resulted in action being taken all around the world. In India, Brazil, and Thailand, vaping has been banned. If you are caught just selling e-cigarettes in India, you can receive 1 year in jail in addition to a fine of 100,000 rupees (equivalent to $1,400). If you are caught on a second offense, they may receive up to 3 years and a 500,000 rupee fine.

The United States is not taking as drastic measures, but there has been a ban on selling flavored e-cigarettes. Many places are prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes where smoking regular cigarettes are also banned. Many states are following New York as an example to ban certain flavors of e-cigarettes in the attempt to lower the teen users rates. Small e-cigarette businesses are being seen to have the biggest impact from all this, as some are worried that these bans will make them go out of business. And from all these bans occurring, some people are trying to sue Juul. Juul has been accepting the bans placed on their products, and the CEO, Kevin Burns, stepped down as of last month.

For those who use e-cigarettes thinking that they get them off of smoking, many have reported that the amount of nicotine e-cigarettes have has actually done the opposite and have gotten them more addicted. For people who are looking for an alternative to cigarettes, it is better to use the smoking cessation products found in drug stores. These consist of nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches.

To help people trying to get off of e-cigarettes, there is a confidential hotline, 1-800-622-HELP, or people can visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website.


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