Lancaster Physician Winter 2020 - 25

WINTER 2020

E-cigarettes are called many things-
hookahs, Juuls, pens, mods, vapes, e-cigs.
Whatever you call them, all have the same
purpose no matter what the shape or size
of the device.
Drawn to the fruity flavor cartridges,
falling to peer pressure, trying to wean
from traditional tobacco products, or even
attempting to curtail hunger, many people
believe e-cigarettes or vaping is safer than
smoking cigarettes and not addictive.
The Great Debate:
Is Vaping Safer Than Smoking?
Nearly half a million Americans are
dying from the effects of smoking each
year. Smoking is the leading cause of death
and disease in the United States, yet it's
also one of the most preventable.
Meanwhile, teen electronic cigarette use
has sky-rocketed by nearly 80 percent in
the past year, according to the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).
For those wishing to argue that vaping
is safer than smoking and an effective way
to quit, the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC), the surgeon general's office, public
health groups, and others point to the
evidence disputing such a claim.
"While some adult users may have successfully quit smoking and attribute it to
vaping, the fact remains that e-cigarettes
contain nicotine, a highly addictive, dangerous substance," says Chineye Emuwa,
MD, pulmonologist with UPMC Pinnacle's
Lancaster Pulmonary & Sleep Associates.
"Furthermore, some argue that vaping can
be a gateway to regular cigarettes."
The vapor produced by e-cigarettes
is not a harmless, flavorful water vapor.
These liquid pods also contain some of
the same toxic chemicals found in smoke
from traditional cigarettes, which is, in a
word, poison. When tested, aldehydes,
traces of metal, and other carcinogens
responsible for playing a role in lung and
oral cancers were present.

TEEN ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE USE HAS

SKY-ROCKETED BY
NEARLY 80 PERCENT

IN THE PAST YEAR, ACCORDING TO THE
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA).
The truth is, whether or not one believes
e-cigarettes have less than or the equivalent
amount of nicotine of traditional tobacco
products, it's difficult to downplay the
effects toxins can have on your lungs,
skin, gums, and circulatory system. Why
take the chance?
Effects of Vaping
E-cigarettes invite harmful and unknown
chemicals into the body and bloodstream.
Many of the toxins are not listed on
the ingredients but rather placed in the
description of the flavorings. These cancer-causing agents reach deep into the
lungs, irritating the bronchi, and cause an
increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
They also compromise adequate flow of
blood to the heart and restrict the arteries.
The vapor inhaled also can cause inflammations in the mouth, eventually leading
to gum disease. Additionally, vaping has
been proven to destroy the mitochondria
used in wound healing. Over time, inhaling the particles present in the vapor can
cause what has become the well-known
"smoker's cough."
It bears repeating that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known
health effects beyond addiction. Nicotine
exposure damages adolescent brain development (learning, attention, impulse
control), which does not end until one's
mid-20s. It also contributes to the hardening of the arterial walls, which, in turn,
may lead to a cardiac event.

Also important to note is that nicotine in liquid form is not considered a
controlled substance nor regulated by
the FDA like nicotine patches and gum
used for smoking cessation. This is critical
in understanding the effects of nicotine
itself since it's one of the stimulants tied
to cardiovascular disease.
E-cigarettes Studies and Stats
to Date
E-cigarettes are the most commonly used
tobacco product among youth, particularly
in the United States. It has been reported
in 2018 that more than 3.6 million U.S.
middle and high school students used
e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. In 2017,
2.8 percent of U.S. adults were current
e-cigarette users.
The FDA reported earlier this year that
1.3 million more high school students use
e-cigarettes now than in 2017. Although
the FDA began regulating e-cigarettes
and other tobacco products in August
2016, there has been a significant spike
in their use. E-cigarette use has increased
78 percent in one year for high schoolers
and a 48 percent in middle schoolers.
Additionally, the CDC reports nearly 38
percent of all high schoolers and even 13
percent of middle schoolers have tried
vaping at least once, and those statistics
likely are underreported.
Recently, a study observed more than
6,000 teenagers between the ages of 12
and 15 in order to determine if e-cigarettes
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Lancaster Physician Winter 2020

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