Will Vaping Lead Teens to Smoking Cigarettes?
Among young people, vapes are more popular compared to all other tobacco products. A 2015 study led by a U.S. surgeon showed that vaping among high school and middle school students had risen by 900 percent, and 40 percent of young vapers had never consumed regular cigarettes before. There are a couple of reasons vaping is particularly en ticing to the young generation.
Firstly, they believe that vapes are less harmful than ordinary cigarettes. Secondly, vapes are characterized by lower per-user costs compared with ordinary cigarettes. Thirdly, vapes don’t produce smoke, smell, and eliminate the stigma of smoking. Lastly, vape tanks are usually formulated with various flavorings like apple pie, watermelon, or strawberry that are way too appealing to younger users. What’s more baffling is that people who shouldn’t consume vape products are the ones leading. It’s an absurd situation.
Vaping and vapes are often promoted as safer methods for nicotine consumption or an alternative to cigarette smoking. But what about the converse? Can vapes lead to ordinary cigarette smoking? The relationship between e-cigarettes and the consumption of ordinary cigarettes in the future is a stark warning for the urge to regulate these products to protect our young generation.
The sudden upsurge of e-cigarette use among youths is evoking fears among parents, school administrations, and the government. But, whereas studies have shown a relationship between vapes and ordinary cigarettes, it’s been less clear whether consumption of e-cigarette results in smoking. A recent study has found that people who begin vaping at a younger age are more likely to switch to regular cigarettes compared to their peers who do not have prior tobacco/nicotine consumption. The outcome supports the opinion that e-cigarettes increase risks of subsequent smoking in teenagers.
Are e-cigs a gateway to cigarette consumption for teens?
A larger percentage of vapes and e-liquids contain nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco. In most parts of the world, e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products and controlled accordingly. Teens have such a “mediocre” knowledge of vapes and related products. They may not know if these products contain nicotine or not, or what impacts they may cause. But since it’s socially acceptable to consume these products rather than smoke, they tend to believe vapes are safe and healthy.
Nicotine is super addictive and vaping nicotine-based products may not stop there. These young vapers are more likely to indulge in illicit drugs. We might be puzzled by how the solution would cause a problem. We might be staring at the next smoking pandemic through teens getting addicted to vapes early in their lives.
The relationship between vaping and eventual smoking is even strong for low-risk teens. These are the children who are not big on thrill-seeking, kids who do not drink alcohol or take hard drugs, or teens whom their parents/guardians think they would candidly say no if their peers or some irresponsible people offered them to smoke.
Even more interesting is that there is a peculiar relationship for the kids who begin with other kinds of tobacco such as cigarillos and hookah; their probability of becoming smokers later on is not higher than that of younger vapers. There appears to be something extraordinary about vapes leading low-risk teens to an increased risk of smoking. But the truth of the matter is that all these kids are equally more likely to end up smoking one day.
Teens who indulge in e-cigs are three times more presumably to find themselves in smoking “dens” than their mates who do not consume any kind of tobacco or nicotine products, new research finds. This isn’t good news for the medical fraternity – which advocates for no smoking below the adult age – and for the vaping industry, which is promoting e-cigarettes as alternative ways to smoking.
In a recent study, which didn’t point out whether vaping leads kids to smoking ordinary cigarettes, the scientists found some sort of association between consumption of e-cigarettes and later smoking of ordinary cigarettes, particularly for teens who are normally regarded as “low risk” for substance abuse. These findings are specifically prompt in the wake of WHO’s recent announcement that a record number of high school and middle school-going children are using e-cigarettes.
According to the study, e-cigarettes help just a proportion of adult cigarettes smokers to quit. Also, it shows that the vaping industry and regulators are walking on a tightrope. On one hand, the use of vaping products as cessation tools for smoking may collapse.
On the other hand, with the growing sets of evidence that e-cigs act as an “on-ramp” to hazardous combustible cigarettes, this is even worse. Now, let’s answer the questions at hand: is vaping safe, safer than smoking? Does it lead to cigarette smoking, are vapes and related products a gateway to smoking among young people?
Vaping: Is It Safe? Or Just Safer Than Smoking?
Over the years, owing to public health concerns and government regulations, the tobacco industry has endeavored to find methods to make regular cigarettes less harmful. Some of the past changes – like the inclusion of filters and making of “light” cigarettes – have been an illusion in reducing the harm.
Today, vapes and vaping products have garnered a remarkable reputation as safer ways to use nicotine and probably a method to quit ordinary cigarettes. The bottom line is using a safer way to consume nicotine. So far, studies suggest that vapes and vaping products are less harmful than regular cigarettes. But how safe are e-cigarettes? Are they safer than combustible cigarettes?
These are the reasons:
Vaping is less harmful than smoking
The consumption of combustible cigarettes is harmful to your health. It causes lung cancer, heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, stroke, reduced immune system, and ultimately death in nearly 60 percent of long-term users. Compared to smoking, vaping is less harmful but this does not approve of it being completely safe.
Smokers inhale nicotine and several chemicals into their respiratory system where those chemicals are absorbed in the bloodstream and travel to the brain. Vapers follow the same process, except rather than burning tobacco leaves to unleash nicotine, they use e-cigarettes to vaporize nicotine-based liquids. They then inhale the nicotine-containing vapor/aerosol to their lungs, where nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream and quickly transported to the brain. This rapid delivery of nicotine to the brain cells causes addiction. Users are addicted to both smoking and vaping.
Apart from nicotine, both vaping and smoking deliver ultrafine particles of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury, organic compounds, as well as carcinogenic chemicals. But the degree/volume of these toxicants typically is way lower with e-cigarettes than combustible cigarettes. As such, if a heavy smoker completely switches to vaping, it’s considered a wise move as vaping is less harmful.
The long-term effect of e-cigarettes are untold
Although nicotine consumption causes respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, chronic cough, pneumonia, and asthma among others, vaping is relatively new and researchers haven’t yet documented the long-term effects associated with e-cigarettes. Also, there is wide variability in vaping products, which muddles studies.
This includes the lack of sound knowledge on the safety of these products and the way they have remained unregulated to date. Vapes are classified as tobacco products and legalized to stay in the open market provided that their promoters won’t claim they are making therapeutic products. For this reason, the vaping industry cannot claim they are helping people quit smoking. It’s only through creativity these e-cigarette makers have managed to survive by marketing their products as “switching” gadgets. This has remained a major hurdle to research the long-term effects of e-cigarette consumption.
Other than e-juices, vapes can as well be used to consume other substances such as marijuana and illicit drugs, and even very little is known about their health effects. Some marijuana vaping juices contain vitamin E Acetate, a compound that was associated with lung diseases that caused huge numbers of hospitalization and deaths in 2019, calling for a prompt intervention by the Centers for Disease Control. Thus the ease of interference (using other liquids in place of vape juice), lack of product control, and lack of product disclosure imply users may not even be aware of what they are consuming.
Quitting nicotine can quite be difficult but absolutely worth it
It is very simple to quit nicotine addiction: never smoke, vape, or consume any tobacco or nicotine-based product, especially during your teenage stage. In childhood, your brain is rapidly developing and any sort of manipulation by nicotine can cause long-term effects of addiction. Vaping without nicotine can act as an alternative here.
Quitting nicotine addiction, regardless of the way you consume it is not a walk in the park. Besides, it doesn’t matter the age at which you began consuming it. So curiosity, experimentation, and peer pressure can quickly turn you into a lifelong addict with costly or even deadly consequences.
Does Vaping Lead to Cigarette Smoking?
The fact that vapes are readily available, promoted everywhere in the mainstream, printed and social media, and are believed to be safer than ordinary cigarettes make them appealing to younger people. Besides, they can play monkey business and hide them from their parents and teachers as they don’t leave behind the stink of combustible cigarettes, and can easily disguise them as flash disks.
A survey of high school students discovered that a quarter of teens confessed to using vapes for dripping. Their reasons for dripping were: to generate thick vapor clouds, enjoy improved flavors, and get a strong throat punch.
E-cigarettes might serve as introductory tools for teens who later indulge in other nicotine-laced products like combustible cigarettes. Studies show that preteens and teens who began vaping by the time they entered 9th grade were more likely to indulge in smoking a year later compared to their peers.
In another study showing similar results, it was found that high school students who consumed vaping products in the previous month were roughly seven times more likely to confess that they consumed regular cigarettes approximately six months later than their “innocents” peers. In all the studies, students who reported having smoked combustible cigarettes were no more likely to confess consumption of vaping products when asked roughly six months later. These outcomes suggest that young vapers are at greater risk of becoming cigarette smokers in the future.
Another study of adult smokers found that those who had previously vaped were not as likely to quit smoking than those who never vaped. Additionally, this group of smokers who had previously been vapers smoked more regularly than their peers who didn’t vape. This shows how tempting vaping is and how it can lead vapers to cigarette smoking.
Health effects of vaping for teens
The teenage period is important for brain development that spans even into young adulthood. Teens who abuse nicotine and related products in whatever form, either through vaping or smoking, are peculiarly at risk of long-term effects. Since nicotine, as a substance or drug, affects the development of the brain system, prolonged nicotine consumption can not only cause addiction, but also makes other hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine appear more pleasurable to the youngsters.
Additionally, nicotine interferes with the growth of brain circuits that regulate attention and learning, other conditions being mood disorders or permanent issues associated with impulse regulation.
There are numerous credible mechanisms through which vaping among teens may result in subsequent initiation to regular cigarettes and related combustible tobacco products. Firstly, the flavorings that desensitize the consumer’s lungs to the aversive effects of inhaling nicotine, enabling a gradual transition from never smoked to consuming combustible cigarettes.
Secondly, the art of holding e-cigarettes in the manner of disguising ordinary cigarettes prompts them to try ordinary cigarettes. Lastly, teens first introduced to nicotine through vapes develop nicotine dependence, over time they may be tempted to test other forms of nicotine.
The rapid increase in vape consumption among young people has normalized the consumption of vaping products, which is slowly normalizing smoking-like habits such as blowing smoke clouds and vapor clouds in public places. If the government and society remain mum on issues of teens indulging in vaping, soon there will be “institutionalization” of these kinds of social behaviors.