Is Vaping Safe?
Vaping has come under public scrutiny of late. What was once hailed as the savior of smokers is now being vilified for potential health concerns. The Trump Administration has proposed banning flavored electronic cigarettes. This move was sparked by a recent outbreak of lung disease that doctors have blamed on the use of vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 380 "probable and "confirmed cases. And at least six people have died from the illness. Just this Monday, the Food & Drug Administration sent a letter to one of the leading Vape manufacturers, Juul, warning the company not to advertise their products as reduced risk compared to traditional tobacco products.
Yet there are those who stand behind the reduced safety risk of vaping. Michael Blaha, M.D. M.P.H., director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease says, “there’s almost no doubt that they expose you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes.” But, Blaha finds cause to be alarmed in the growing usage of electronic cigarettes among youths. “What I find most concerning about the rise of vaping is that people who would’ve never smoked otherwise, especially youth, are taking up the habit,” says Blaha. “It’s one thing if you convert from cigarette smoking to vaping. It’s quite another thing to start up nicotine use with vaping. And, it often leads to using traditional tobacco products down the road.” The U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900 percent in 2015 and furthermore 40 percent of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco.
In a study released last week, The New England Journal of Medicine examined 53 cases around the country of lung disease related to vaping. The Journal found that the "cluster of illnesses represents an emerging clinical syndrome." But, what was most concerning was the median age of the patients, which was 19.
With eight million adults and five million children vaping, six deaths might not seem so terrible? In 2017, the CDC reported 34.3 million Americans smoked cigarettes and that cigarettes caused 480,000 American deaths. Will vaping start killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in a few years as cigarettes have done and the safer alternative will prove to not be safe?
Written by Alexander Fleiss