Vape pens were once seen as a less harmful alternative to smoking, but new evidence suggests they can be harmful in their own right. Photo courtesy Metro Creative

Electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices were once described as potentially “safer” and “healthier” methods of smoking, even by leading health organizations. Many former tobacco smokers even turned to e-cigarettes as a method of quitting traditional cigarettes.

However, recent research into vaping and a rash of mysterious lung illnesses and deaths recently linked to vaping has led many to question if vaping is safe. Those who suspect it’s not may be wise to quit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there have been at least 530 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses. Eight people also died in six states, with the first confirmed death occurring in April. Federal and state investigators have focused their investigations on vape cartridges that contained tetrahydrocannabinol — THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — as well as Vitamin E.

Vaping has quickly become an epidemic in schools. More than 3.6 million American middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Study. Teen nicotine vaping rates in 2019 were double those of 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says. 

Despite the installation of vaping detectors and some schools going so far as to remove doors from bathroom stalls, opportunities to vape still abound. Older students may leave campus to vape in their cars during lunch breaks.

On the coast, school administrators have warned that the trend is in full effect here. They have reported students vaping in class and held informational gatherings to better inform parents of the risk.

Many adults look to e-cigarettes to reduce their dependence on tobacco products. However, Johns Hopkins Medical Center warns e-cigarettes are just as addictive. Also, many e-cigarette users get even more nicotine through extra-strength cartridges or by increasing the voltage to get a greater hit of the addictive substance. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved vaping as a smoking cessation method.

More evidence continues to point to vaping as an unsafe practice. Quitting the habit now can have profound, potentially life-saving effects

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