Recent years have seen a growing trend of vaping, especially among teenagers and people in their early twenties.
In a recent Monitoring the Future Survey, 37.3% of 12th graders admitted they had tried “any vaping” in the past year. This number increased from 27.8% in the same age group, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
With more teenagers vaping regularly, there has naturally been a large outcry of researchers— and concerned parents— who have committed themselves to learning more about vaping products and their ties to potential addiction.
While most vaping devices (e-cigarettes) do not have chemicals like lead and ammonia pumped into them like tobacco products do, they provide a more concentrated form of nicotine, making researchers wonder if vaping could potentially have adverse health effects on young people, due to nicotine alone.
Nicotine, a highly addictive substance that has been a focal point for anti-smoking campaigns, exists in vaping products too. Vaping’s specific effects on the human body remain undiscovered. There are specific concerns about how it could affect a developing body.
According to an article published in Yale Medicine, nicotine is particularly addictive to people under the age of 25. Nicotine is a drug that once inhaled, it goes through the blood vessels in the lungs and is delivered to the brain in seconds. There it releases dopamine and adrenaline throughout the brain and body.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that activates reward-pathways, which essentially signals the brain that the person is enjoying their current activity. Most drugs activate dopamine, causing most addictions.
Addiction is a concern of its own. Johns Hopkins Medicine says nicotine can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Nicotine could also have long-term impairments on judgment by altering development of the cerebral cortex (the main language and information processing center in our brains) and hippocampus (in charge of processing emotions and forming memories) , according to a report by Linda J. England, a researcher at the Office on Smoking and Health.
People believe that e-cigarettes could keep young people from using regular tobacco. However, the Surgeon General reports the opposite could be true, and teenagers who regularly vape could be more likely to try tobacco in the future.
There is still information being gathered about e-cigarettes, including studies of certain chemicals with potential links to cancer and other serious illnesses. Scientists are constantly finding out more on vaping and its potential effects on the body.
Scientists agree on one universal truth: any e-cigarette is not as bad for you as traditional cigarettes. With most chemicals in tobacco missing, vaping is less likely to cause many of the diseases researchers are worried about, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the threat. While being much safer, there is still something to think about when you pick up that new black cherry flavoring you’ve been wanting to try in your vape pen.