Escape the vape
This piece was submitted to and printed in the Red & Green opinion section. Conner is a senior at Minot State who is studying nursing.
It was only 13 years ago when electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) became available for purchase in the U.S. E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, mods, pods, or JUUL, are electronic, hand-held devices that heat the liquid contents, such as nicotine and flavorings, into an aerosol form for inhalation. This action is known as vaping. The use of nicotine today has actually increased, with vaping being more widespread than traditional cigarettes.
Originally marketed as a way to help people quit smoking cigarettes, it snowballed into a trend affecting all ages, especially younger generations. The Food and Drug Administration has not actually approved the use of e-cigarettes as an effective, safe tool for smoking cessation. Previously, there was inadequate evidence to determine safety. Now we’re faced with severe illnesses emerging across the nation.
A study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina shows that young adults use them purely for the enjoyment of it and not for smoking cessation. Advertisements have alluded to ideas of relaxation, sex appeal, freedom, and looking cool with e-cigarette use. And with so many device options, designs, and flavors, coupled with easy access, it is no wonder this has become so popular. In addition to nicotine and marijuana, other harmful substances have been found, including lead, flavor chemicals, and cancer-causing agents. Purchasing products on the street have an increased danger, as the contents are modified and harmful. With technology continuously changing and general curiosity, individuals have begun creating their own concoctions to use. This includes marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.
Little scientific evidence behind the safety of vaping has been a major public health concern. With little evidence, it’s hard to effectively warn the public about the risks, both long- and short-term. Original concerns were in regards to nicotine content and exposure. Now statistics show that those who had never smoked traditional cigarettes later became addicted to nicotine due to e-cigarettes. This fact shows how using these devices can jump start nicotine exposure and addiction, opposite of their original marketing design.
News sources and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are diligently working to warn the public of recent illnesses. The CDC has an official health advisory in regards to the new health concerns from e-cigarette use. As of Sept. 24, there have been 805 cases across 46 states of lung injuries amongst individuals who claimed using e-cigarette products; 12 of those cases resulted in death. Nearly 22% of those injured are between 18 and 21 years of age. The CDC is encouraging individuals to abstain from use and to not purchase modified products off the streets. Many of the reported illnesses across the nation are associated with the inhalation of marijuana. Individuals who use e-cigarettes should be aware of possible signs and symptoms of an illness. The safest choice would be to quit promptly.
The public should be aware of the signs and symptoms that can develop. Cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, fever, nausea, and vomiting can all be indicators. Severe pulmonary illnesses are a risk, as is death. The illnesses can develop rapidly, over several days, whereas in some instances developing over weeks.
As previously stated, the vast majority of the cases are amongst users who reported marijuana use. There has not been a specific product identified that can lead to these severe illnesses, as the investigation is continuing on. The CDC expects the number of individuals who develop a lung illness to increase. Therefore, with the outbreak of life-threatening lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes, it is imperative that you protect yourself and escape the vape.