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Vaping and E-Cigarettes: Is it Big Tobacco or a Bad Wrap?

Have an opinion? Click here to Join the conversation in regards to the future of the e-cigarette. 

This year had one new noticeable trend that you only could have missed if you were living under a rock: vaping. E-cigarettes have gotten a makeover and people are in an uproar about whether these vaping machines are lethal or just fine. So what’s the big deal? Should people be allowed to release their cloudy vape smoke everywhere and anywhere? If you’re like me you might not like the thick white candy smelling smoke blowing in your face, whether it’s harmful or not. Let’s take a look at the argument.

What is vaping and how did it get so popular?

Vaping is when you inhale vapor from e-liquid through a personal vaporizer. The e-liquid is normally made up of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, combined with nicotine and natural and artificial flavors that taste and smell quite strong. You need four parts to vape: the inhaler piece, the atomizer, e-liquid, and battery. The battery powers the atomizer that heats the e-liquid and creates the vapor. Then you inhale the vapor through the inhaler mouthpiece.

Vaping has been around for years, but the new portable devices and exotic e-liquid flavors have seemed to create a booming vaping industry of $4 billion. The numbers don’t surprise me since you can’t drive five blocks without seeing a vape shop. It’s not uncommon to see sober people with a vaping pen in hand. It’s become the popular thing to do to collect different flavors of juice and see who can blow the most smoke.

Is vape smoke dangerous?

This is the $64,000 question. Anti-tobacco activists have rallied behind the suspected dangers of vaping and are outraged that the industry is almost completely unregulated. Everyone wants to know, is vaping as bad for you as regular smoking? Or is it harmful at all? The truth is the long-term effects of vaping have yet to be analyzed.

According to reports in the journal Addiction, side effects from vaping were limited to moderate symptoms like throat and mouth irritation and dry cough. The most dangerous side effect was, “An increase in blood pressure, a potentially more concerning effect, was reported by 2% of correspondents.” As for bystanders, the threat is the smoke blown out by the vapers which contains nicotine and other particles like aroma transporters, glycerol, and propylene glycol.

A large percentage of vapers use vaping as a way to quit smoking cigarettes and it has been a huge help to many. Some are even offended by the industry being compared to Big Tobacco and the dangers they promote. Although vaping pens and e-liquid don’t have the same type of toxins as regular cigarettes, they do contain nicotine, which can be addictive and cause symptoms of withdraw. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to: irritability, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and increased appetite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

Should vaping be outlawed?

The outrage at the unregulated vaping industry continues and some want to see it regulated like the tobacco industry. The Food and Drug Administration could soon make or break the entire vaping industry. The organization filed their final regulations this October to the White House Office of Management and Budget, a nine-step process to regulate electronic cigarettes. In 2014 the FDA released proposed regulations that included required warning labels on vaping devices, prohibiting sales to minors, and banning free samples. The vaping industry is worried these regulations may wipe them out completely.

Some states have already begun their own regulations. For example, five counties in Washington voted to impose restrictions on e-cigarette use in public. They also voted to limit vaping to those over the age of 18. Vaping is now illegal in all public places and worksites. Additionally, public vaping is banned in big cities including Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago in all places where smoking is banned. Other states and cities including Baltimore and Vermont have banned vaping in certain areas like schools, playgrounds, childcare facilities, and government and healthcare facilities.

The evidence is still out on whether vaping should be illegal or not, but the research shows that the regulation has begun. Is it only a matter of time before vaping becomes a thing of the past? Only time will tell, but I look forward to the days when my nostrils aren’t filled with the aroma of caramel cheesecake vape juice in a public place.

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