Is vaping a healthy alternative to smoking?

From early on, we’ve all been taught about the dangers of smoking cigarettes and the associated risks of consuming tobacco and nicotine. Essentially, it’s been molded into our educational curriculum when discussing drugs, health and wellness.

However, there have been alternatives, such as vaping, e-cigarettes and juuls, that have been advertised on TV, social media, and commercials, which promise to be a healthier and safer substitute.

In general, smoking cigarettes can be addictive and breaking away from the addiction can be incredibly challenging so many have turned to e-cigarettes and vaping. These alternatives have become popular over the years because they may seem to be a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes.

One vape in particular has become increasingly popular, the JUUL. A JUUL is a device which involves inhaling heated vapor in a variety of different flavors. While the juul has become very popular recently, it also has a high concentration of nicotine in it. Mango, fruit and mint may all seem like delicious flavors when it comes to food, but these flavors, which are contained in the ‘pods’ of a juul, still introduce us to a high concentration of nicotine.

While smoking tobacco is unarguably dangerous and detrimental to our health, vaping and juuls can harm and have a negative effect on the human body just as well.

Dr. Valerie Kalter, a professor of biology here at Wilkes University states that, “e-cigarettes still do contain some nicotine and the amount is not controlled or monitored.”

Thus, although e-cigarettes and vapes may be marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, they are still dangerous. In fact, one JUUL pod contains just as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Many may believe that e-cigarettes and vapes may aid one’s attempt to quit smoking, but “nicotine activates the neurotransmitter dopamine which is the “feel-good” chemical in our brain.

These vapes may defeat the purpose of breaking away from smoking cigarettes,” according to Kalter.

It’s also very easy for students and children to get away with the use of it because of its deceiving appearance, since it looks like a USB or black flash drive.

In fact, since these JUULs and the pods within it smell good due to the appetizing flavors, it’s very easy for younger children to accidentally imbibe them.

“The liquid used in vapes is poisonous and drinking it has been the cause of many injuries to children, due to the fruity flavors which makes the fluid attractive,” according to Kalter.

Kalter also went into great detail when discussing the effects these vapes have on our lungs. She states that “some of these vapes contain 100 times the quantity of formaldehyde that is found in cigarettes which is ultimately linked to cancer,” said Kalter.

These chemicals also contain irritating particles or gases that may lead to bronchitis or a chronic cough because the lungs become irritated and inflamed. For instance, when talking to Kalter, it was discovered that many of these e-cigarettes contain metal particles that can cause physical damage to lung tissue.

Because of this, it’s not surprising that those who vape are more likely to suffer more from respiratory infections and they are prone to contracting pneumonia because of “the deactivation of hundreds of genes associated with boosting immune system function,” said Kalter.

Overall, it’s questionable whether vaping is a healthier alternative because of the amount of nicotine, the dependence on it, and the other chemicals within these vapes that may potentially be irritating our lungs or even lead to cancer.

It appears as though patches or nicotine gum may be more beneficial than vapes and e-cigarettes.