In recent times, 5 people have died from complications to the lungs due to vaping. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported more than 200 cases of severe respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping. Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, vape pens or vaporizers are dangerous. Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including: ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, flavorants such as diacetyl, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals such nickel, tin and lead. Some people even inhale THC via vaporizers and vape pens. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, i.e. marijuana. This is the ingredient that causes the “high” sensation. THC is detrimental psychologically, neurologically and to the respiratory system. One ingredient that is concerning is Vitamin E acetate. It is commonly used in nutritional supplements and applied to the skin, however, when inhaled could cause respiratory complications.
What is vaping? Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol or “vapor” from the e-cigarette or vape pen. A vape pen is almost like a pipe. A vaporizer is almost like a diffuser people use for essential oils or a hookah.
Hookah has been around for nearly 500 years, originating in India. It quickly became popular throughout Persia and the Middle East. Over the last decade or two, hookah became very popular in the United States. It is most popular in neighborhoods that have a large Middle Eastern and Far Eastern population. Although a social pastime for centuries, over the last few years concerns have risen over the use of hookah in America. The contents in hookah are not regulated and contain harmful ingredients as do other vaping devices. A few of these harmful ingredients include: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tar and arsenic. Aside from these harmful chemicals, another concern are of the pipes of the hookah. Yes, most places give a plastic mouthpiece for each new user, however, are the pipes being cleaned? Public hookahs typically don’t clean the pipes after each hookah session. People breathe bacterial and viral pathogens into the pipes of the hookahs. Hookah users in addition to being exposed to harmful chemicals are also exposed to these pathogens, making it easier to contact a disease. Hookah is a multibillion dollar industry and a large portion of its users are teenagers. Hookah is more dangerous than e-cigarettes and other vaping devices simply because they are shared by multiple users.
Originally e-cigarettes were designed to help people quit smoking because they provide the sensory responses of regular cigarettes, such as: inhaling/exhaling, the feel of holding a cigarette and the repetitive motion and the raising and lowering the hand to and from the mouth. Chemically, the nicotine satisfies the urge. The benefit of the e-cigarettes over regular cigarettes was that the person was not breathing in tar and the other carcinogenic ingredients of cigarettes. Also, it was believed at one time that it was safer to breathe in vapor than smoke. Obviously, this belief has changed. E-cigarettes and other vape devices can cause just as much damage. Vape products are not FDA approved; there is no regulation on their contents. Certainly there is variety in potency and purity with each product. People do share e-cigarettes and other vaping devices which increases the chance of contacting harmful pathogens. However, hookah is more subject to public access; i.e. hookah lounges.
The manufacturers and distributors of these vape products have misled the public for the sole purpose of profit. They craftily promoted these products as safe alternatives to tobacco smoking and as a reliable remedy to smoking cessation. Perhaps at one time the perception of these products was positive, but no longer. Hookah is also a big business and misleads the people into thinking it is safe.
What is unfortunate is that vape products and hookah are very common among our youth. Vaping has become a common social activity. Once again we see the violation of the dignity of the human person. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are profiteering at the expense of the health and well-being of our population, especially the youth.
We need to bring awareness to the dangers of all smoking products, whether tobacco, vape, hookah or marijuana. All these products are detriment to our health, both mind and body. There are many effective ways to stop smoking, of course the best thing is not to start. However, for those who unfortunately are smoking any of the aforementioned products, it is certainly difficult to stop. These products were designed to incite addiction so that profit would be ensured. The users of these products became victims. Of course, when e-cigarettes first came out in 2003, the belief was they were a safer alternative to tobacco smoking with the prospective that people will totally cease smoking. They were recommended by health care professionals. However, within the last several years with the background of the legalization of medical marijuana and now decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana the popularity of e-cigarettes, hookah and vape has risen. Certainly these products serve as a vehicle to consume marijuana, especially the “high” ingredient, THC.
It is important to first bring awareness by educating people about these products and their dangers and second, to educate on the proven remedies to overcome the addiction and how to have access to them. The better we understand how these products work and the effects on our mind and body, the better we can avoid them and help others stop using them.
Although not technically a 12-Step Program there are support groups that help people stop smoking. These support groups have proven to be more effective than pharmacological and medical options. This includes both tobacco and non-tobacco smoking. They both contain the addictive ingredient nicotine and other chemicals that are harmful to our body.
E-cigarette, hookah and vape consumption presents a very challenging problem to our society, especially to our youth, however, just like with any other problem or crisis, nothing is impossible to overcome. By God’s grace anything can be overcome. We just need to be vigilant. Indeed, the Creator is greater than the created products of mankind.