E-Cigarettes are a fantastic way to kick the nasty and life-threatening habit of smoking. These devices have helped thousands of people quit, safe in the knowledge that the E-liquid inside their Vape Tank or Disposable Vape Pen isn’t harmful nor toxic. Or so everyone thought.
E-Cigarettes are a relatively new invention, having been created between 2001-2003 by a Chinese Pharmacist called Hon Lik. Lik was devastated when his father died of lung cancer due to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for decades. This personal tragedy compelled him to devise a system with safety in mind whereby nicotine could be vaporized along with a carrier liquid – enter E-cigarettes. This new system has much merit as it cuts out combustion and therefore prevents around 7,000 chemicals that are found in tobacco from entering the mouth and lungs.
Unfortunately, as with all innovations, the jury is still out regarding the overall safety of vaping E-Cigarettes. This reality will only become apparent in years to come when people have been using them regularly for say ten or twenty years. In the meantime, no real reports of health issues from E-Cigarettes have arisen as the majority of issues come from people who don’t know their battery safety and get a shock – or in the worst case, a small explosion in their pocket.
One big issue with the E-Cigarette trend is that it has attracted teens and those underage. A Truth Initiative study from 2018 found that ten to eleven percent of 15-21-year-olds admit they use a Juul – a disposable pod system at the top of the market. The problem is that the E-Cigarette industry is mostly unregulated as relevant authorities try to come to terms with this innovation.
As Benton County Health Department Health Policy Specialist John Ruyak, said, according to a recent Daily Barometer report: “This is an industry that is not well regulated, so we don’t have a consistent way to test the products. There is no consistent way to know what is in the products and if they are labeled correctly,” he said.
Another activist for the regulation of the E-Cigarette industry is Marc Braverman, co-chair of OSU’s Tobacco Policy Task Force. According to Braverman, the issue at the moment is that cigarette smokers have no real idea how much actual nicotine they are getting in a Juul pod or the E-Liquid they’re vaping. In Braverman’s words, “The user won’t necessarily know what the nicotine level is, because there is a great deal of mislabeling or no labeling at all.”
Studies have shown that nicotine by itself can be damaging to health, especially in the developing brain until the age of 25. Some studies suggest that nicotine addiction before this age could lead to learning difficulties as well as trouble recalling information. But, as with most things these days, it’s all about the image and the marketing.
Companies like Juul have launched savvy, but compliant ad-campaigns and have done well to hide any talk of side effects or negative effects from vaping. As Ruyak said, “I think the companies themselves have done a really good job of distancing their products from combustible, regular cigarettes.”
The news headlines have also been replete recently with sensational talk of vaping causing seizures in some people. There have also been reports about bacteria and fungi being found in samples of the top ten Vape Pens in America. None of these reports have particularly worried vapers; all of whom are addicted to a substance whose long-term or even mid-term effects aren’t known. Talk of metal leaching from the coil that heats the liquid to vapor worries some people, although the majority of vapers feel a lot healthier than they did when they smoked cigarettes.
As Ruyak concluded, “We’re not going to know the long term health effects in the next five or ten years, it will be much longer,” he said.