The hidden dangers of e-cigarettes

While marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes pose other health risks

Tasnim Rushdan, Contributing Writer
Man uses e-cigarette while looking at his phone.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Jacksonville University is a smoke- and vape-free campus.

This doesn’t stop the popularity of vaping with the younger generation, however.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, there are a few factors that differentiate vaping and smoking. E-cigarettes heat nicotine and other chemicals to create a vapor that is inhales. Smoking supplies nicotine by the burning of tobacco, along with approximately 7,000 other harmful chemicals.

Although e-cigarettes and vaping are generally safer than smoking, they are still not harmless. The CDC has confirmed at least 60 vaping-related deaths. One of the most popular e-cigarette companies that gained mass media attention, was the company JUUL. The JUUL device itself looked similar to a flash drive and even came with a charging adapter that could plug right into a computer.

Unlike the companies before them, JUUL offered a variety of flavors to choose from. Ranging from flavors that went from mango to mint, it easily appealed to the younger generation.

Frequent e-cigarette user and long-time vaper Kara Clemons described her experience with the devices.

“The fact that you could purchase so many flavors and they actually tasted good was surprising to me,” Clemons said. “I started off as only using my JUUL in social settings. Then, little by little it became something I did mindlessly.”

Francesca Troi, who was also a vape-user, described how she got addicted to the device.

“My JUUL helped decrease my appetite, which to me is never a bad thing,” Troi said. “I will admit my addiction slowly worsened as time went on. I went to reaching for my JUUL the way one would reach for a bottle of water.”

After about three years of the company taking off and many of the youth becoming frequent users, stories started to develop about the possibility that JUUL’s could potentially be harmful. Users started to experience coughing with chest pain and even nausea. This started to raise red flags with many pediatricians.

Najla Abdur-Rahman, a Maryland-based pediatrician talks about her experience with patients who were e-cigarette and vape users.

“Patients would come in complaining about a cough they had or chest pains they were experiencing,” said Abdur-Rahman. “We would run a few tests at the office, and a majority of the time we would only get answers once we kicked the parents out the room. Children denied smoking on the forms before but only admitted it later after we told them of the potential dangers. The most common link was that kids were using vaping-related products. We ultimately had to send them to the ER before anything could get the chance of escalating.”

According to TIME magazine, the Trump administration announced regulations on flavored vaping products. The regulations include companies like JUUL and Puff Bar to prohibit selling e-liquids in fruit, dessert, and mint flavors. This leaves only menthol and tobacco flavors on the market.

Federal officials signed a new law making the purchasing age for tobacco and vaping products 21. The raise in age limit is an attempt to hopefully diminish the amount of underage smokers and vapers.

Troi warns people to not fall victim to the appeal.

“I never thought something so little could consume my life the way it did,” Troi said. “The chest pains and the constant coughing simply was not worth the nicotine buzz.”