"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

What does vaping do? New research shows damage and addiction

This is the second a part of a four-part series.

April 26, 2023 – Jake Warn calls vaping “a toxic artificial love.”

Jake, of Winslow, ME, was 16 when he began vaping. Unlike cigarettes, vaping is odorless and the smoke leaves no trace – so he and his friends could use the devices in class bathrooms without fear of getting caught.

He would use an entire cartridge with the vapor liquid, the equivalent of smoking a pack of tobacco cigarettesinside one school day. In the autumn semester of his freshman 12 months, Jake says, he increased his consumption even further.

“It became expensive, and that's when I really started to notice the extent of his addiction,” he said recently.

Vaping prices among teenagers in Maine doubled from 15.3% to twenty-eight.7% between 2017 and 2019, when Jake was still in highschool. In 2021 11% of high school students across the country reported frequently smoking e-cigarettes, and an estimated 28% have at the very least tried the devices, in line with the CDC.

The FDA classifies e-cigarettes as Tobacco product Because many contain nicotinewhich is obtained from tobacco. Many who start as teenagers, like Jake, are more likely to persist with the habit into maturity, experts say.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (END) like vapes were touted by their manufacturers and some in the medical field as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and as a approach to help smokers quit the habit.

But that didn't get Jake – who had never smoked traditional cigarettes – into vaping, nor could he sell the concept to his mother.

“'It's all organic and natural flavors, it's just flavored water,'” Mary Lou Warn recalled her son saying. She researched the health effects of vaping but didn't find much online. But “I knew they were dangerous because you're not getting anything other than fresh air into your lungs.”

Jake was a determined athlete in highschool and located his asthma worsened when he moved to varsity, especially when he was participating in a track and field competition or attending a football game.

Mary Lou Warn also noticed changes off the sector.

“He was constantly coughing, he wasn't sleeping well, he wasn't eating well,” she said. “I knew the addiction was taking over.”

The vaping irritated Jake's throat and caused a nosebleed that he couldn't stop, she said.

Since Warn first investigated the consequences of e-cigarettes on the respiratory system in 2017, Studies have examined first-time smokers who've never consumed flamable tobacco products and the short-term health consequences. Studies suggest The Vaping can worsen Bronchitis and asthma, increase blood pressure, affect brain development in young userssuppress the immune system and increase the danger of develop a chronic lung diseaseFurther research on Mice And Cell cultureS has found that the vapor or extracts from vaporizers damage the chemical structure of DNA.

However, attributable to the limited variety of long-term studies in humans, it's difficult to predict the longer term health consequences for e-cigarette users. Meaningful studies The link between industrial cigarette consumption and deaths from heart disease and cancer didn't emerge until the mid-Fifties, a long time later Manufacturers began mass production and marketing within the early twentieth century.

It could also be years before researchers gain a clearer understanding of the health consequences of long-term electronic cigarette use, says Dr. Nigar Nargis, chief scientific officer for tobacco control research on the American Cancer Society.

“There has been no study that has shown a direct connection between [vaping] to cancer, but it is clear that it [vaping] can promote the development of cancer as well as lung damage and inflammation,” she said.

For decades, advocates have raised awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, resulting in strong decline in tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancerBut Hilary Schneider, Maine’s director of government relations for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, said she fears the rise in e-cigarette use – especially among those who has never smoked or those who use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes – could reverse the decline in smoking-related diseases.

Several studies recommend inhaling chemicals contained in e-cigarettes – including nicotine-containing aerosols – can damage arteries and ignite and injure the lungs.

Vapes “have basically created an epidemic of tobacco use among children,” Schneider said. “We're seeing unprecedented rates of tobacco use, higher rates than we've seen in decades.”

One reason why many young people start vaping Is the attraction to aromas, from classic menthol to fruits and sweets. A handful of states have the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes is banned or restricted.

“It’s new and has been marketed in such a way that we are really fighting against the misrepresentation that is being spread by the manufacturers of these products who are trying to make them attractive to children,” said Rachel Boykan, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics and chief medical officer at Stony Brook Children's Hospital in Stony Brook, NY.

Jake was particularly addicted to the Red Bull flavor. And although he didn't realize it at the time, the nicotine in the pods may have prevented him from quitting smoking: According to a study by the Truth Initiative and the CDC, the average nicotine concentration in e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2013 to 2018.

The immediate risks of nicotine to the developing brain are well documented. Studies suggest that nicotine – contained in vape products – can have effects Learning ability of young peopleremember and stay alert.

But many teenagers and young adults who use e-Cigarettes say vaping helps relieve anxiety and keeping them alert, which, in line with Boykan, also increases the complexity of their addiction.

Nicotine “actually disrupts neural circuits, which may be linked to increased anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating on learning and vulnerability to other addictive substances,” she said. “That's reason enough to make it very scary.”

Jake also said that the social environment in which so many of his friends vaped made it difficult for him to quit vaping.

“You hang around with your pals at night, and everyone seems to be using it, and you are trying to not,” he said.

Jake eventually took a semester off from college to undergo unrelated surgery and moved home, away from his vaping classmates. Eventually, he transferred to another college and lived at home, where no one vaped and where he wasn't allowed to smoke in the house, he said.

“He got here home and we took him to a physician, they usually didn't really know the way to cope with children and e-cigarette addiction,” Mary Lou Warn said.

Because the long-term health consequences of e-cigarette use are not fully understood, many healthcare providers fail to clearly educate current and potential users about the risks of vaping.

“Pediatricians have needed time to ask the right questions and recognize nicotine addiction through vaping,” said Boykan, who is also chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on nicotine and tobacco prevention and treatment. “It just hit us so fast.”

But once pediatricians identify nicotine addiction, treating it can be difficult, Boykan says. Many pediatricians now recognize that e-cigarette addiction can appear in children as early as middle school.

“We cannot recommend many evidence-based treatments for children,” she said.

Will vaping be a “phase”?

Now 23, Jake is aware of his addiction to vaping and the potential risks to his long-term health, and said he has reduced his use compared to his college days, but is still having a hard time kicking the habit for good.

“I don't need to should use on a regular basis, not have cravings,” he said. “But I feel over time it'll just subside.”

However, his mother said that it might not be so easy to stop.

“This goes to be a lifelong journey,” she said. “When I take into consideration who he's, addiction is something he'll at all times have. It's an element of him now.”