By now, you’ve seen the colourful packaging and caught the sickly-sweet smell of vapes around town.
Chances are you’ve already considered vaping, know a friend who loves it or you’ve even made the leap and become a regular user.
But behind the seemingly casual, non-committal fun that comes from vaping with your friends or at parties are the very real, very dangerous risks that we all ought to remember.
It’s not that different than smoking cigarettes
One of the biggest selling points of e-cigarettes or “vapes” was that they are said to be less toxic than cigarettes and could even make you less prone to taking up smoking altogether. Unfortunately, to this day, there is no concrete proof to back this up. In fact, according to an evidence review commissioned by the Department of Health in 2020, compared to those who never vaped, the young people who do are three to five times more likely to take up smoking later.
An e-cigarette supposedly carries less nicotine, and less toxic elements usually found in ordinary cigarettes. But reducing your intake of these substances only marginally reduces your chance of developing complications such as lung cancer, stroke or heart disease or even collapsed lungs which is fatal. When consumed in proportions that are too large, nicotine can trigger seizures, add stress to your heat system and irritate your lungs.
Symptoms are irreversible
Once you start to show symptoms of VAPI (Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury), long-term damage has already been done to your lungs, your brain development and maybe even your heart. For someone like me with asthma, the symptoms described are those of an extreme asthma attack that never ends: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.
This means that the next steps you can take can only be reparative. Teens and young adults who have suffered such injuries across Europe and the United States are reportedly being hooked up to respirators and can no longer go through a long amount of time without them. This would mean that you would not be able to practise sports, or hang out with your friends for long periods of time anymore. While we may take these things for granted, they are important parts of being a teenager and a young adult … do you really want to sacrifice them?
You really don’t know what’s in there
When you buy a pod, there is no governmental oversight done to guarantee that what’s written on the package is truly what you’re putting into your body. We trust doctors and health professionals with the most intimate parts of our healths because we trust they are qualified and trained to treat us but how do we know if these invisible brands and sellers are qualified to? Well, we don’t. Therefore, we really shouldn’t let them tell us what is safe for us.
To make matters worse, national health authorities and the World Health Organization have not been able to identify the agent that is causing all these lesions in young people’s lungs which means that their injuries are much harder to treat. The reality is that vaping is a fairly new phenomenon that has grown exponentially in the past decade. Because of this, health officials and organisations have not been able to narrow down an exhaustive list of risks associated with vaping.
It really could explode
We all remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosions that made headlines throughout 2017. The smartphones kept exploding while they were in use due to a short-circuit issue. Even for those of us that weren’t directly concerned, it was a terrifying thought to imagine your cell phone catching fire whilst you’re holding it and it really made us reassess how much faith we put in technology. At least for a while.
Although such cases are rare, the vaping device itself is powered by a battery that, if faulty, can explode and cause fractures, flame burns, chemical burns and blast injuries wherever it detonates.
Quitting is difficult, but not impossible
If you’ve thought about quitting, congratulations! You’re halfway there. Although quitting any addiction is difficult and even painful at times, the most important part is to remember that relapses and moments of doubt are not exceptions to the process but part of it. It’s extremely rare to be able to quit on the first try. So just keep going, especially when it’s hard . You’ll be so grateful down the line.
The HSE has developed the HSE Quit Service to help those who are already smoking and vaping and wish to stop.
Have you tried vaping or have you felt pressured to?