The Knowledge about vaping, its effect and use is getting clearer with time and a lot of research has been done and in process to inform us more on this relatively new social activity and its effect to health.
Tobacco industry has marketed vaping as a better alternative to smoking. Looking deeper you identify how the marketing is tailored to easily groom younger users to full time users.
What is Vaping
Vaping first came into the market in the early 2000’s and has since gained a lot of popularity and also controversy. The act of vaping is the use of e-cigarette or similar device in inhaling and exhaling aerosol which is normally referred to as the vapor. It is different from traditional smoking as it does not produce tobacco smoke. The seemingly vapor is an aerosol which consists of fine particles
The e-liquid fine particles contains a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin-based liquid with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals and metals, but not tobacco. Most people use these to inhale the same chemicals that gives a high by mind altering effects found in Marijuana or other synthetic drugs instead of Nicotine
The vaping device will have 4 components: The mouthpiece, battery, cartridge that holds the e-liquid, referred to as juice, and the heating component for the device, powered by a battery.
The Device is used by heating up the device, once heated up the liquid is heated up producing the vapor like aerosol that is inhaled and exhaled as in smoking.
The Vaping devices are a type of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) which include the e-cigarettes, vape pens and other advanced personal vaporizers which are known as MODs. The E-cigarettes resembles smoked cigarettes, and vape pens looks like fountain pens, are cheaper and simple design that are easy to disguise.
There are 500 e-cigarettes brands and more than 7,000 flavors in the market.
The most popular vaping product is the JUUL, a USB Flash drive look alike that is small and leek device. Its subtle design makes it easy to hide, which helps explain why it has become so popular among middle and high school students. The Juul device comes with pre-filled containers known as pods which have nicotine liquid. The teens are drawn to these devices for its discrete enough to hide.
See the video here that describes the marketing allure for these devices: How e-cigarettes like the Juul are co opting the language of wellness.
There are other similar devices coming into the market but JUUL accounts for about 72 percent of the market share of vaping products in the United States.
To attract the youth, they have several flavors that don’t look like vaping. This includes flavors like crème brûlée, mango and fruit medley.
The argument is that Vaping has less nicotine than cigarettes. However, every JUUL product contains a high dose of nicotine, with one pod or flavor cartridge containing about the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes
Being less risky does not mean risk free. A growing body of evidence has indicated that vaping products are dangerous, especially among the youth under 25 years.
Why should you be concerned
Marketing to Kids: The tobacco companies are marketing these products to your teen in every way possible. Even though there are laws that prohibit companies from marketing traditional cigarettes to young people, those laws don’t apply to electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices (yet).
The same tactics the companies used for cigarette in the past to attract young people are being used with the vaping devices. The vast use of these devices shows that these tactics are working.
Based on data from 2016, it’s estimated that 4 in 5 middle and high school students were exposed to these devices advertisements.
In the past, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes (except menthol), because the research findings indicated that the flavors were successful in attracting the young people. The Teens that use the flavored vaping most say that they wouldn’t vape if the products weren’t flavored.
The legal minimum sale age was set at 18 by the federal government in 2016. However, the loopholes around the marketing regulations does not help with the quick popularity among youth.
Like most products, the fact that they are easily hidden makes them very accessible to younger teens in high school that would not be able to buy them themselves.
The adolescent brain is still developing hence more vulnerable to addiction.
The devices contain high levels of addictive nicotine, exposing the developing brain to possible addiction.
Other than its addictive nature, nicotine may increase the risk of developing mental and physical health problems in future and also addiction to other drugs.
Irrespective of the form of consumption, nicotine is a very addictive substance that is particularly risky for the developing brain. The amount of nicotine in one pod of JUUL is equivalent to one pack of cigarette.
Dangerous health risks: In addition to nicotine, vaping contains other chemicals that are dangerous to your teen’s health.
The Aerosols from the vaping products have proved to contain various toxic chemicals, heavy metals and ultra fine particles, all of which pose health risks.
Possible use of other more substances:
The use of the electronic devises may be a sign that the teen is smoking regular cigarettes or marijuana. Most teens who vape have in most cases tried traditional cigarettes. Most high school students that are vaping will smoke cigarettes too to feed the nicotine need.
In addition, according to expert views, teens who are vaping are also are “up to 5 times as likely to use other combustible tobacco products, including hookah, cigars or pipes”
According to Linda Richter, PhD Director of Policy Research and Analysis, the teen are also using vaping devices to smoke marijuana or hash oil instead of nicotine liquids. The Teenagers, especially the younger teens, who used electronic devices but not marijuana had a double chance of using marijuana a year later. The vaporized marijuana smoke has little smell, which makes it hard to detect.
For a more detailed information on the vaping, the risk and health implications for youth, please check out Stanford detail paper here
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