Ellie’s Expression: Is vaping really better for your health?

Eleanor Marshall
Opinion Columnist

Study: As popularity of e-cigarettes rises, more smokers are able to quit
A study released on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, indicates an increasing possibility that vaping may aid in helping smokers kick the habit. Photo by Travis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS

In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s time to tackle a difficult topic: vaping.

In theory e-cigarettes are a great idea. They were created to help smokers quit, and they don’t have any tobacco (which causes cancer). Of course, they still contain nicotine and other chemicals, but vaping is supposed to be better for someone than smoking.

“There is no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a puff on a conventional cigarette,” professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, Stanton Glantz said.

That, however is not the issue. The issue is the increased number of teens who vape without realizing the dangers. Vaping may be safer than smoking, but the nicotine in vape is not good for people, especially for teens.

The Food and Drug Administration didn’t start regulating e-cigarettes until 2016. The finalized rule included banning their sale to minors, both in person and online. The ban went into effect in August 2016, but individuals under 18 are still vaping, and the numbers are growing.

A new study said 40 percent of e-cigarette users 18 to 24 years old had never been cigarette smokers.

Between 2011 and 2015, e-cigarette use increased from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 among high school students and 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle schoolers. In total, about three million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015.

E-cigarette companies make the practice seem safe, which is just not true.

Nicotine is a cardiovascular stimulant, meaning it can weaken people’s hearts. It obviously harms the respiratory system, and there’s some evidence that e-cigarettes can have a negative effect on blood vessels and may increase people’s heart attack risk in that way.

However, the main problem with nicotine is the effect it has on a young person’s brain.

According to Regina Boyle Wheeler of WebMD, “(Nicotine can) harm the developing brains of kids and could affect memory and attention.”

Teenagers are more at risk for long-lasting effects of exposing their developing brains to nicotine. These risks include nicotine addiction, mood disorders and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also changes the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

This is obviously dangerous. If someone decides to vape, he or she must realize the consequences of putting chemicals in one’s body.

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