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Vaping: Addictive or an Alternative?
2019-01-07 15:58:02
Maricor Zapata

[메디컬리포트=Maricor Zapata 기자] Recent statistics shows that vaping among teens are just a fad as the number of teenagers and young adults who use e-cigarette decreased over the past years.

According to a survey released last June 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of high school and middle school students using electronic cigarettes fell to 2.2 million in 2016 from 3 million in 2015. “It certainly is a public health win,” said Brian King, an expert on smoking and health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the first fall in teen vaping statistics since the agency began tracking in 2011 while in a similar study by the University of Michigan also reported a decline in 2016.

The CDC study is based on a questionnaire filled out annually by about 20,000 students in grades 6 through 12.It focused on “current users” — kids who said they had used a tobacco product within the 30 days before they answered the survey.

It found an overall decline in the use of vaping devices, traditional cigarettes, and other tobacco products.Based on the survey responses, the CDC estimates that the number of middle and high school students using tobacco products fell to 3.9 million last year, from 4.7 million the year before.

The reason behind the downfall is still unclear, and hasty to tell whether the numbers would collapse constantly.

“E-cigarettes may also be losing their novelty among teens,” said Matthew Farrelly, a tobacco control researcher.

One probability would be the progressive ban of selling e-cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.Iin addition, the influence of ad campaigns by the government and other organizations that demoralize teens from smoking.Teenagers and young adults must have realized possible side effects of smoking vape or tobacco.

Vape or e-cigarettes are battery powered devices that heat liquid and nicotine.These devices typically generate a plume of vapor that mimics smoke.Research has found kids like to vape flavorings like sweet fruits and bubble gum, though often in nicotine-free versions.

In the previous year, the Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule that requires all vaping devices should undergo detailed testing and regulation that will evaluate “ingredients, product design, and health risks.”

Though evaluation is still in progress, numerous local governments are boldly treating vape similar to tobacco cigarette smoking.California’s passage of Proposition 56 means, vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes, vape pens, and even electronic hookahs, will be taxed the same way as cigarettes and tobacco products.The state also prohibits vaping in non-smoking areas.

Vape is generally considered a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes since it does not contain tobacco.But most still have nicotine, a highly addictive substance that has many potential effects on the body.

According to Dr.Holly Middlekauff, professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at UCLA, “When it comes to smoking versus vaping, we need to consider the distinction between what's 'safe' and what's 'safer'.”

As mentioned, vape still contains nicotine and a very high level of nicotine which could be toxic and lethal to the human body. “Substances used to create the signature smoke effect in vapes can also carry risk.Glycerine and propylene glycol, for example, can create carcinogens.To minimize harm, consumers need to understand how such substances are being used”, stated by Dr.Michael Ong, associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and chair of the California Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee.

As early studies show, e-cigarette liquids and the vapor they produce contain the same level of most toxic chemicals as tobacco cigarettes.However, nobody has looked at what everyday users are actually exposed to in the real world.Dr.Lion Shahab, UCLA, will be leading the study on looking at the effects of e-cigarettes in what they define as “long-term” users.

The study included a group of vape users, who had been using them for an average of 17 months and measured the levels of nicotine and 26 other harmful chemicals present in their body through urine and saliva samples.

The team then compared the results to cigarette smokers, and people who both use e-cigarette and tobacco cigarette.They also looked at people who used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which is commonly used to help people stop smoking or as a long-term alternative.

“We looked at NRT users because we know these products are safe to use,” says Shahab.

Surprisingly, the level of nicotine found in e-cigarette users is similar to those of NRT users and tobacco cigarette smokers.This suggests that people are able to satisfy their nicotine cravings through using either of these products.

But the crucial finding came when the team looked at the samples at the levels of potentially toxic chemicals.They have found a remarkable difference in the presence of one chemical called NNAL (known to cause lung cancer).That the NNAL was 97% lower in e-cigarette compared to tobacco cigarette.

This study confirms that vape is far safer than tobacco smoking.But still, it is not that 100% convincing as there a number of questions that haven't been answered yet.A possible question would be: Why people who used e-cigarette did not reduce the level of nicotine compared to those of tobacco smokers?

Perhaps, according to Dr.Shahab, “The full benefit of using e-cigarettes is from completely stop smoking”.

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