Tobacco and Vaping

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in our country every year — about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths — and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.

Exposure to secondhand smoke also causes serious diseases and death. Each year, an estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and almost 41,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.

Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco — including cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco — contain the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is readily absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled or smoked. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over the period of about 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1 pack (25 cigarettes) daily gets 250 “hits” of nicotine per day.

Vaping

Vaping is the act of inhaling a water vapor through a vaporizer, sometimes called a vape pen or electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). These are battery-powered devices that are usually shaped like a pen or tobacco cigarette. A cartridge inside holds a liquid, usually containing nicotine or hash oil, along with other chemicals like artificial flavors. A heating element warms up the liquid until it becomes an aerosol vapor, and users inhale the vapor and exhale a puff of fog or steam that looks like smoke but isn’t.

Vaping has also become an increasingly popular way to ingest THC, the active compound in marijuana or pot. Marijuana is dissolved in butane and other chemicals to create hash oil, which can be heated in vape pens.

A common misconception about vaping is that it’s safe, because you’re not inhaling smoke. While the absence of smoke does make vaping less dangerous than smoking marijuana or traditional tobacco cigarettes, vaping isn’t considered safe or risk-free by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Surprisingly, there is no requirement to publicize the ingredients of e-liquids (also known as “juice”). So, who knows what’s in that little bottle of chocolate-flavored liquid? According to some studies, diethylene glycol, a chemical toxic to humans often found in anti-freeze can be commonly found in juice cartridges. Yet, this is just one of several toxic chemicals that has been found within e-liquids. Some smoke shops will make their own house blends and tout all sorts of purity claims; however, no one is testing those house blends.

Vaping nicknames include: Mrs. Puff, Darth Vaper, Puff Daddy, lil juulzi vert, Juul Juul Siwa, Juulia, mods, tanks and juice. And the dispensers can resemble a pen, USB stick or similar item.

Vaping Facts You Need to Know

  • Vaping is less harmful than traditional smoking but still bad for your health
  • E-cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional ones
  • E-cigarettes aren’t the best smoking cessation tool
  • A new generation is getting hooked on nicotine

(Sources: NIDA, Reach Out, Teen Therapy Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine)