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Vaping devices, also called e-cigarettes have become like a raging fire among our society, especially in our younger generation, doing so with all the uncertainties and controversial issues about its harmful effects on the human health. E-cigarettes were supposedly helping smokers kick nicotine. Instead, they have hooked and killed young people. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes in 2014 (CDC). Nobody knows exactly what vaping does to the body over time. Through this paper starting from the beginning of whom and why vaping was invented, what exactly is an e-cigarette, health issues, and to what the government is doing to control the use of vaping among our youths will be discussed.
On April 17, 1963 Herbert Gilbert filed for a patent for his device known as a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” The image of the product he submitted looks just like the current vapes on the market today. After a few years later his patent expired. His idea did not catch on.
Smoking cigarettes were very popular then and nobody was interested in giving up there cigs. With all the hype about the Super Bowl XLI with the San Francisco 49ers playing the Kansas Chiefs it was brought out that in the first Super Bowl played in 1963 with the Kansas Chiefs playing the Green Bay Packers. At half time of that first game there was a photograph published of the KC quarterback Les Dawson sitting on the sidelines drinking a Fresco and smoking a cigarette. Cigarette commercials were very popular in the 60’s with the most memorable one being Marlboro.
It featured the Marlboro Man who was a good looking cowboy sitting on top of his horse, looking manly and rugged as ever. Eventually in 1971 cigarette commercials were banned. In 1966 the first Surgeon General warning about the health issues were put on all cigarette packages. People did not heed to these warnings and continue to smoke anywhere: restaurants, offices, bars and even hospitals without any concern about their own health or second-hand smoke that was affecting non-smokers. So there were a couple of reasons for Gilbert’s design did not to succeed; smoking was still much more widespread and socially acceptable, while the technology for a really successful product was not there yet. But that all changed forty years later when along came Hon Lik.
A Chinese pharmacy, Hon Lik filed for a patent on his electronic cigarette in 2003. Lik himself was a 2 pack a day smoker and at the time his father was dying of lung cancer (CDC). Lik had tried to quit smoking by using nicotine patches. If he forgot to take the patches off before he went to bed he would have nightmares. It was those restless nights that he came up with an idea for a device that would solve his problem with nicotine addiction. He invented the e-cigarette as alternative to smoking the traditional cigarette. Today he is considered the father of the electronic cigarette. So what is this electronic cigarette that Lik invented and how does it work?
The common e-cigarette has a mouthpiece, a puff/power button, a tank which contains the liquid, a heater, a lithium-ion battery, and a LED light that lights when the smoker draws on the mouthpiece (Baldisseri). When the device is used, the battery heats up the heating component, which then turns the contents of the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs and then exhaled. Currently, there are about eight thousand e-liquids flavors, many of which have very appealing names such as Bubble Gum, Chocolate, Cotton Candy, Grape, and Gummy Bear. Teens are often tempted by the wide variety of e-liquid flavors. The fruity and candy e-liquid flavors play a significant role in getting youth to try them (Mooney 13). Because of this in 2014, e-cigarettes surpassed cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product by middle school and high schools students (EBSCO).
Even though some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes the most appealing thing for the youth is the ones that look like pens, USB flash drives and everyday items which make them difficult to spot on school campuses. E-cigarettes not only come in various shapes but are known by different names. They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)” (CDC). With all the fancy and enticing names for the e-liquids and the various forms of the e-cigarette no wonder the youth and young adults are attracted to this new way of smoking without any regards to health issues. So what are the health concerns using e-cigarettes.
Because vaping is relatively new, scientist are just beginning to research its effects on the human body.
While the results of long-term studies are not yet available, there is increasing concern over the health risks that have been linked to e-cigarettes and vaping (Mooney 43). Various chemical substances and ultrafine particles known to be toxic, carcinogenic and/or to cause respiratory and hearth distress have been in e-cigarette aerosols, cartridges, refill liquids and environmental emissions. Other studies have found that e-cigarettes produce high levels of nanoparticles, which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke and heart disease (Blanding).
Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addicted. The brain is the last organ in the human body to develop fully. Brain development continues until the early to mid-20s. Nicotine exposure during significant brain development, such as adolescence, can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to learn (CDC).
Another part of the human body that has been affected by e-cigarettes is the heart. There have been chemicals used in the liquid flavorings of e-cigarettes that mess with the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout your body. There are other chemicals found in e-cigarettes that could increase inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels. That could lead to clot formation, clogging the artery and causing a stroke.
Some of the chemicals found in e-liquids and the vapers they produce include propylene glycol (used in antifreeze products), acetone (used in nail polish remover and paint thinner), formaldehyde (used as an embalming fluid), vegetable glycerin, and diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to severe respiratory distress known as popcorn lung (Mooney p.16). Forty-seven people have died of a mysterious lung disease illness linked to e-cigarettes. Another 2,290 cases of vaping related injuries have occurred. Many victims have ended up with respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which fluid builds up in the lungs and prevents the oxygen people’s bodies need to function from circulating in the bloodstream (Knowles).
Most of the patients who have fallen sick and from whom officials have demographic information are male and young. Almost 80 percent of the patients are under 35, and their median age is 24(Knowles).
Despite what knowledge that has been gathered on e-cigarettes there are a few benefits to them. Smoking traditional cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable premature death worldwide, killing nearly 6 million people each year. Building on a “harm reduction” approach-which aims to minimize the deleterious effects of an addictive substance rather than encourage total abstinence-substituting e-cigarettes for tobacco could save lives (Blanding). E-cigarettes may deliver less nicotine than traditional cigarettes and thus less addictive. There is not the dangerous second hand smoke associated with smoking cigarettes. Oral hygiene is another reason to stop cigarettes smoking.
Have you ever been in a room and somebody walks in who has been smoking? The smell is awful and almost sickening to the non-smoker. Cigarette smoke leaves a nasty brown film on whatever ii comes in contact with. Mirrors, the walls in your house, light fixtures, clothing, windows, and anything that comes in contact with second-hand smoke. Once a person quits cigarettes there taste buds and smell start to resume back to normal. People began to taste and smell things differently. A good feeling to have. E-cigarettes may not be the right for everybody especially the youth and young adults but for the already habitual cigarette smoker they could be a life saver.
Arnold, Carrie. “Vaping and Health: What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?’
Environmental Health Perspectives, Sep 2014, Vol. 122, Issue 9
Baldassarri, Stephen., et. al. “Vaping-Seeking Clarity in a Time of Uncertainty.” Jama, vol.
322, no.20, 7 Nov. 2019. , doi:10.1001/jama.2019.16493
Blanding, Michael, and Madeline E. Dexter. “The E-Cig Quandary.” Harvard Public Health
Magazine. Web. 14 Nov. 2019
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): 2016 Surgeon General’s Report. E-Cigarette Use Among
Youth and Young Adults.
CDC website. Accessed September 13, 2019.
Knowles, Hannah, and Lena H. Sun. “What We Know about the Mysterious Illness and Deaths.”
Washington Post. 21 Nov. 2019
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health Accessed Jan.8, 2020.
Mooney, Carla. Addicted to E-Cigarettes and Vaping. Reference Point Press, 2019
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