Teen Health

Vaping E-Cigarettes, a Dangerous Addiction

Written by
Dr. Muhammad M. Hanif Md.
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Sep 04, 2015 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  4 min read



A misconception among the adolescents and teenagers is that, e-cigarettes are alternative to conservative combustive tobacco smoking and they help in smoking cessation and controlling over the withdrawal effects of nicotine.

Vaping E-Cigarettes, a Dangerous Addiction

Electronic (e)-cigarettes (Electronic Nicotine delivery System - ENDS) vaping has gone almost double amongst the adolescents and teenagers, in a few years after the emergence of these new addictive nicotine delivering devices. So, it is an issue of massive impact concerned about the health of teenagers worldwide.

There are two classes of teenage and older e-cigarette smokers:

(A) Those who never smoked conventional tobacco cigarettes.

(B) Those who are previously on conventional combustible tobacco smoking, shifted to the e-cigarettes for recreational purpose or adopted it just to aid in quitting tobacco smoking. Although, many start using both of them and this is the main concern of medical attention.

Responsibility of Physicians:

Physicians ask their patients very little about smoking. It is highly recommended to ask 5-A's to every suspected patient.

  • Ask if he smokes tobacco.
  • Advise about cessation of smoking.
  • Assess if the patient is willing to quit.
  • Arrange for a proper follow up and reinforcement.

A new trend has got famous amongst adolescents and that is, the e-cigarettes and they feel this is harmless compared to conventional tobacco smoking. They mostly end up in real tobacco smoking one day. e-cigarettes contain high concentrations of nicotine and produce an aerosol which is inhaled.

Side Effects of Nicotine Inhalation Are:

  • It causes addiction, pleasure and a feeling of reinforcement.
  • Lack of confidence and a social cut off amongst teens and it causes a lack in confidence in many, researchers believe.
  • Problems with neural development.
  • Irritation of the respiratory tract starting from the lips to the ends of alveoli in the lungs causing cough, ear nose and throat infections.
  • Headache, insomnia, diarrhea.
  • Bone issues like backache.
  • Skin problems like acne.
  • Deranged and painful menstrual flow.
  • Cardiac rhythm abnormalities and high blood pressure ultimately leading to problems involving blood vessels.
  • Loss of appetite and indigestion.
  • Miscarriages and harmful to lactating babies.

How Do E-Cigarettes Function?

The e-cigarettes heat up the liquid in it and vaporize it to form an aerosol. So, vaping is the alternate name as smoking is used conventionally for tobacco products. If used continuously operating at higher voltage setting, it is very harmful to health. It may affect small blood vessels throughout the body and coronary arteries in the heart. Arteries become thicker, stiff and get blocked making them unfit to serve as an optimal conduit for the blood to pass according to the need of the organs in hours of strenuous activity like running or exercise.

What Does the Condensed Vapors of E-Cigarettes Contain?

It contains acrolein, glycerines, nitrosamines, propylene glycol, flavoring and other chemicals and toxic metal nanoparticles. All used as propellant agents in e-cigarettes end up in forming metabolic end products like formaldehyde and acetone that are very well know chemical carcinogens. Although these hazardous chemical vapors are far less harmful than those emitted in conventional combustible tobacco smoke, but still they are bad for health. That is why some people believe e-cigs as an alternative and an aid in quitting tobacco smoking, assuming it less harmful to the human health. But this is not true and a lot more research is needed yet to confirm that. Unfortunately, very little data is available to say about the safety of these products but it is definitely harmful to the human health.

Availability of E-Cigarettes:

These devices are easily available in developing as well as developed countries and has become a status symbol unfortunately amongst the youth. It is manufactured at a low cost and so easily available to the masses. School and college going students are the major prey to this industry.

E-Hookahs (Sheesha) is an alternative name of the same kind of products working on the same principles.

Advertisement is the mother of all modern era illnesses and it is almost always based on unreal myths shown as facts and the dilemma is that nobody ever bothers to stop this dangerous game.

They claim it to be an alternative to the tobacco smoke and an aid to help in quitting. But the research and clinical experiences say the people who smoke tobacco also smoke e-cigarettes and they continue both of them and remain exposed to the hazardous effects of both the products. They actually would have started e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking in the first place.

Flavor, a Contributor to the Addiction:

Different flavors available in e-cigarettes are also a reason that triggers the addiction and popularity of these products amongst youth. Nicotine in e-cigarettes make this addiction many folds.

Should I Start E-Cigarette as a Smoking Cessation Aid?

No, one thing is clear that e-cigarettes are neither a recommended alternative to conventional tobacco smoking nor is it an FDA approved aid to quit smoking.

You are not sure what you are exposed to in the liquid chemicals used to refill the e-cigarette liquid aerosol system which is all provided by unregulated non-FDA approved companies. Also these products increase the nicotine addiction and badly interfere with the tobacco smoking cessation.

FDA has approved many other cessation aids e.g. nicotine patch, nicotine gums, inhalers and non-nicotine medications used orally, example: Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion.

For help to quit cigarette smoking or to get details about e-cigarettes, consult an internal medicine physician online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/internal-medicine-physician

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  4 min read




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