The dangers of vaping

April 1, 2024 | 3 Min Read

Table of Contents

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are on the rise, particularly amongst teens and young adults, who are attracted to their pretty packaging and range of sweet flavours. There is a common misconception that vaping is safer than cigarette smoking, but e-cigarettes cause health problems, too. Both vaping and smoking are highly addictive and bring potentially dangerous chemicals into your body. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), what is most concerning is how e-cigarettes are packaged and presented, with colourful designs and a range of flavours marketed at young people. This is in stark contrast to legal requirements for cigarette packaging, which, depending on the country, have to feature severe health warnings, graphic images of smoking-related illnesses, or in some cases, completely blank packaging. WHO have called for a ban on flavoured vapes and for governments to bring in similar rules to those governing cigarettes.

The US has banned some vape flavours like mint and fruit. New Zealand has banned most disposable vapes with flavours that appeal to teens. In Australia, vapes will be available on prescription only, for smokers who want to quit tobacco. The Indonesian government has imposed a tax on e-cigarettes, while many other countries, including South Korea, China, India and Brazil, have announced very strict vape rules. The UK has recently announced a ban on disposable vapes, and Ireland and Germany are considering similar measures.

While more than 30 countries have banned vaping, it is largely unregulated in others. According to WHO, currently 88 countries have no minimum age at which e-cigarettes can be bought and 74 countries have no regulations in place whatsoever.  

Though the extent of the long-term effects isn’t currently known due to a lack of medical research, it is a fact that chronic consumption of high Nicotine levels - as found in vapes -damages your heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, other cardiovascular problems, delayed wound healing and can affect the reproductive system. 
Many vape juices contain chemicals such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), formaldehyde, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead, that are potentially dangerous when inhaled regularly over a long period of time. These toxins can lead to shortness of breath, skin irritation, and other health issues.
While the chemicals used in vape juices have been tested as safe for eating, they have not been tested for inhalation. Some vapers experience throat irritation due to the high temperatures used for vaping as well as the presence of certain ingredients in the e-liquid. This can result in coughing fits, a sore throat, and hoarseness.
The aerosol that vapers inhale and exhale can expose both themselves and bystanders to harmful substances. Long-term exposure to some toxic chemicals found in vapes may increase the risk of cancer, including mouth cancer, tongue cancer, or throat cancer.
There is growing evidence that vaping could be associated with a medical condition called EVALI - E-cigarette or Vaping-use Associated Lung Injury – which causes damage to the lungs. Vaping has been linked to an increase in bronchitis, asthma, COPD and other respiratory illnesses. Vaping hurts the lungs by causing inflammation that may lead to permanent scarring. It takes two to five minutes to smoke most cigarettes; e-cigarettes can last up to 20 minutes, delivering more damaging chemicals to the lungs.
Nicotine is particularly harmful to the developing brains of young adults, impacting memory, learning, and attention. 
Some vapes can contain 20 times the nicotine in a single cigarette. The high concentration of nicotine in some e-cigarettes can lead to addiction, especially among young users. Nicotine dependence can lead to cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and difficulty quitting.
Vaping is associated with the uptake of cigarette smoking. According to studies, young people who vape are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes and may be more likely to develop other addictions in the future.  

As vaping is a relatively recent phenomenon, its long-term health effects are not yet clear; and continuous research is needed to assess the potential risks over extended periods of use. In addition to the health risks above, discarded e-cigarettes harm the environmental, generating a considerable amount of plastic and electronic waste.

If you want to overcome your vaping habit, you may want to reach out to the Expat Assistance Programme, included in your healthcare plan. This service provides immediate and confidential counselling support, through live online chat, face to face, phone, video or email.


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