A serious topic of debate regarding e-cigarettes has risen lately—questions like, ‘should these devices be banned from society?’ ‘What are the risks if they were banned?’ E- cigarettes are electronic devices usually in the shape of a cigar, cigarette, or pen. Many people use them as an alternative to smoking because they contain nicotine and are considered “better for one’s health”. This, however, may not be true. While e-cigarette devices are still somewhat new to the nicotine market, health experts claim:
“E-cigarettes are just as bad as regular, tobacco-containing cigarettes, if not worse.”
What causes a lot of tension regarding the idea of many using e-cigarettes is that people and professionals alike don’t know the long-term effects of it’s use. E-cigarettes were first successfully sold on the market in 2003. While this may seem like a long time ago, this is nowhere near enough time to see any health-threatening effects. Most e-cigarette companies advertise their products to make them seem healthier. For example, they’ll use people who look healthy and young to appeal to potential buyers. Kidshealth.org states,“Their [e-cigarette companies’] marketing targets young people by making fun flavors for e-cigarettes and showing young, healthy people vaping. They’re trying to make you into their new, lifetime customer.”
E-cigarette companies will mostly target teens and young adults because they are seen as easier to influence. Usually, e-cigarettes companies do not care about the effects of their products on the health of buyers, but rather base their company solely on how much they profit off of their customers.
Before diving into the use of e-cigarettes, it is best to know what the risks are. One should start by explaining how vaping impacts the lungs. No matter how ‘okay’ an e-cigarette may seem, users are putting themselves at risk for irreversible lung damage. E-cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals, which are impossible for your body to process and filter out. The American Lung Association explains that, “In 2016, the Surgeon General concluded that secondhand emissions contain, ‘nicotine; ultrafine particles; flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.’” These chemicals cause serious harm and can lead to long term health issues.
Not only does vaping have negative effects on the lungs, but it can also damage the brain. Young minds are inherently sensitive to certain substances, like the ones found with vaping. Therefore, when users directly inhale the chemicals, they’re damaging different areas of the brain—the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain for focusing one’s attention or planning one’s actions, for example.
Also, vaping can reduce brain activity. Business Insider in explaining the negative effects of e-cigarettes, they state that,“Like other drugs such as marijuana or alcohol, nicotine has a different impact on a developing brain than on the brain of an adult. The prefrontal cortex is often at increased risk in teens who use substances because it doesn’t finish developing until around age 25.” Since the brain is still developing, any form of a chemical can delay/hinder the growing process of young mindsets.
Although there are multiple health risks, many still believe that e-cigarettes shouldn’t be banned. But why? Well, it is thought that banning them will just cause more and new issues. The ban of e-cigarettes will just lead to an increase in the use of regular cigarettes. Another problem that can occur is that many will find illegal ways to find vapes, like on the black market. A website called The Atlantic, who wrote an article titled “The Vaping Overreaction”, explains that, “When flavored vapes are no longer available, many nicotine users won’t just quit. Instead, some will use cigarettes. Others will turn to the unregulated black market to continue buying fruit-flavored e-cigarettes, for which adult vapers as well as teens have a strong preference.” Although banning e-cigarettes may seem like a solution to this problem, it will only have short-term positive effects leading to long-term negative effects.
So, should e-cigarettes be banned? One should note that there are many negative factors that come along with the ban. Nonetheless, e-cigarettes have many health risks and before using them one must be aware that he or she is harming themselves. Also, one may argue that laws should be enforced regarding anyone under 18 using e-cigarettes, as it is proven to be toxic for a young, developing mind.
Camryn is currently a junior at Sweet Home High School who moved from California to the Sweet Home district last year.