E-cigarette use comes at cost of user health, often resulting in nicotine dependence

Devon Mann, Print Editor in Chief

Stepping into the bathroom on campus, one is immediately hit with the smell of fruity vapor rising to the ceilings. A group of boys stand huddled around the stalls, quickly passing the e-cigarette back and forth, trying to get a few hits in before the bell for next block rings. To the boys, it seems harmless – just blowing some smoke in and out of their mouths, but few acknowledge the use of e-cigarettes or other electronic vaping devices comes at a price: their own health.

E-Cigarettes have become increasingly popular, with numbers of teenagers who use them surpassing the numbers of those who smoke tobacco cigarettes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, use of e-cigarettes typically begins in America’s youth as early as the eighth grade, with an approximated 6.7 percent of young teenagers using vaping devices. As they grow and mature, the numbers continue to rise. By the time they are seniors in high school, this initial figure has more than doubled, with 16.7 percent of teenagers reporting having used an e-cigarette on a regular basis.

While they think the effects are limited, teenagers are doing damage to not only their bodies, but minds. The common argument presented in favor of vaping is that it is “the lesser of two evils” in comparison to tobacco cigarettes, but as Brian King, deputy director for Research Translation for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, points out in a press release for the CDC, less harmful does not make it harmless.

“Safer is not the same as safe,” King said. “Nicotine is a prime ingredient in these devices. Studies we’ve conducted at the CDC show nicotine is more addictive than heroin and cocaine. And there’s a growing body of evidence that nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain, which is more susceptible to acquiring an addiction.”

For many teenagers, becoming addicted to nicotine at an early age puts them at a greater risk to start smoking tobacco cigarettes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30.2 percent of teenager e-cigarette users started smoking cigarettes only six months after initially trying an e-cigarette. Additionally, Diacetyl, a chemical often found in e-cigarette juice for flavoring, has been linked to the respiratory disease called Bronchiolitis Obliterans, according to research conducted by Harvard University.

“This is potentially volatile stuff,” King said. “The flavorings in these products are a concern. The bottom line here is, e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless, and use should not be encouraged.”