The tobacco industry has, over the years, focused on diversification and the introduction of new products for a burgeoning number of consumers. These efforts have recently culminated in the introduction of e-cigarettes hand-held vaporizers that have steadily gained traction since their inception. E-cigarettes function by simulating smoking for the consumer but devoid of tobacco. The term “vaping” refers to the act of using an e-cigarette to inhale an aerosol solution created to mimic cigarette smoking (Lardieri, 2018). A heating element, strategically placed inside the e-cigarettes, atomizes the solution that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol or a range of additives. The main idea behind vaping and the introduction of e-cigarettes was to set off a chain reaction that would ultimately greatly reduce the consumption of tobacco.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its introduction and even hailed it as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking that would ultimately benefit many of its users. It has even led to the emergence of a “vaping community” with many of its members hailing e-cigarettes as a safe hobby to adopt. E-cigarette companies have been quick to capitalize on this new development largely through an elaborate online presence. Nevertheless, vaping is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. Concerns over addiction, safety and health apprehensions are some of the main reasons why e-cigarettes are an existential risk to consumers. However, detractors of this point of view argue that it presents a practical alternative to smoking and has aided many in smoking cessation. It is, therefore, critical to explore the reasons why vaping is not a safe alternative in addition to an evaluation of the recalcitrant view that e-cigarettes are beneficial.
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Vaping creates a state of dependence which may consequently trap users in a vicious cycle of addiction. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine e-liquid solutions known for being extremely addictive. At the heart of the disease of addiction is the creation of neural pathways strengthened over time through repletion. Neuroplasticity creates a scenario where the repeated use of nicotine based e-liquids is wired into the brain and marks the beginning of dependence. Moreover, researchers are now cautioning anyone who intends to start smoking e-cigarettes for it introduces both physical and psychological dependence. A study by the Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute revealed that 10 % of young adults who used the popular e-cigarette JUUL were soon hooked on nicotine and were unaware that the product contained this addictive chemical (“E-cigarettes: Facts, Stats and Regulations,” 2019). The brain’s reward system is hijacked by nicotine use leaving the user hooked on the aerosol vapor to function normally. In addition to this, nicotine addiction may worsen any underlying cognitive and mood disorders. Addicts will continuously seek this nicotine “kick” which originates from a surge in the release of adrenaline. Similarly, addicts experience an increase in the blood sugar since nicotine inhibits the release of insulin. Individuals who suddenly stop consuming nicotine based e- liquids may experience dreadful withdrawal symptoms (Press & Hale, 2016, p. 21). Strong cravings, anxiety and irritability are commonly reported when individuals discontinue their vaping habit which is eerily similar to the effects of cigarette smoking. The worst of these symptoms is depression which may affect every aspect of an individual’s life especially since nicotine is one of the hardest substances to quit.
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The use of e-cigarettes has also been linked to a host of health and safety concerns. In fact, vaping now considered a grave public health concern which should be approached with the seriousness it deserves. Concerns have recently been raised over vaping and its ability to induce seizures. Some e-cigarettes brands such as JUUL have been found to deliver high doses of nicotine which may impact users negatively. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now links the spike in seizure cases to vaping as a rare side effect. Furthermore, vaping may also lead to cardiovascular problems. As mentioned earlier, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands which results in the production of adrenaline. A sudden increase in its production activates the sympathetic nervous system that raises the blood pressure in anticipation of a “fight or flight” response (Gordon, 2018, p. 45). Narrowing of the arteries soon follows and may be blocked, resulting in an ischemic stroke. Correspondingly, vaping is also linked to sudden heart attacks. The aerosol vapor produced when puffing an active e-cigarette contains microscopic particles which may cause cardiovascular toxicity. These pollutants, mainly formaldehyde and acrolein, cause health complications which may result in sudden death. The combustion process irritates the lungs and worsens any pre-existing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lung inflammation and the aggravation of respiratory tract infections become common after a stint using e-cigarettes. Since e-cigarettes are generally thought to be a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, passive smokers may bear the brunt of this new trend by unknowingly inhaling metal nanoparticles.
Proponents of vaping argue that it is an invaluable innovation that has helped thousands of tobacco fiends to quit smoking. Individuals who aim to remain smoke free have been known to switch to vaping as a strategy to help them kick the habit. Many smokers are said to enjoy this new found habit and, in the process, trick the brain into adopting this new-found routine. Also, vaping is said to be safer than tobacco and offers better recovery odds when compared to lozenges and nicotine patches. E-cigarettes deal with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms by serving a practical replacement that leads users to avoid normal cigarettes. Those struggling with smoking addictions have recently revealed their techniques and how they have served them in their long-term strategy. Pairing vaping with prescription nicotine receptor blockers such as bupropion has been hailed as an effective technique that has helped many in smoke cessation.
Nonetheless, the reality is that vaping does not help persons seeking to stop smoking. A study by Georgia State University recently revealed that individuals who vaped to stop their smoking soon ended up as dual users (Wilcox, 2016). These details support the claim that e-cigarettes are not capable of helping smokers to stop their smoking addiction. E-cigarettes contain a low concentration of nicotine which is why many turn to cigarettes to satisfy this urge. Therefore, vaping does not help smokers to quit the habit but simply disrupts their usage patterns.
In conclusion, vaping is now in vogue and strives to ape cigarette smoking. Even so, it may lead to addiction and health concerns that have largely been overlooked by users. Exponents of its use argue that it has helped many quit smoking, although scientific evidence rules out the veracity of these claims. Hence, it is fundamental to investigate the real dangers associated with vaping to establish an authentic implication of its use.
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