Recently there has been a rash of deaths that medical professionals have linked to e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are new enough that physicians cannot be certain of the long-term ramifications of using them. However, the outlook is currently rather negative. Read on to learn all about e-cigarettes, as well as how medical personnel are handling the current endemic.
Electronic cigarettes go by many names: e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens, or e-hookahs. Currently, there are almost 500 electronic cigarette companies registered in the United States. Different brands vary widely in appearance. Some can look like a traditional cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Certain companies design their product to look more like an everyday object. The widely known brand JUUL famously designs vape pens that look like a USB drive.
E-cigarettes have three main components on the inside of the device. The vape pen’s innards break down to reveal a heat source – known as an atomizer – and a power source – typically a battery. E-cigarette companies focus on the inner cartridge, also known as a flavor pod or reservoir. These cartridges hold the nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that smokers actually ingest. When a user pulls a hit from the mouthpiece of the vape, the battery powers up the heating device. The heat source vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge and this vapor is inhaled by the user.
Customers are intended to use vape pens for nicotine products. However, some people use e-cigarettes that accommodate, or can be modified to accommodate marijuana. Due to vape pens’ popularity with young adults, there are concerns about how smoking nicotine or marijuana products impacts them.
Within the last few months there have been multiple cases of mysterious respiratory diseases in teenagers across the country. When the first case came in, doctors and other medical professionals were at a loss as to what was happening. As medical professionals examine more cases, they have linked the mysterious illness to vaping.
The illness begins with vomiting, fever, and fatigue. These symptoms build over days until the patient is miserable and needs assistance constantly. Oftentimes, the catalyst for a hospital trip is the trademark symptom of this illness – shortness of breath. Shortness of breath on its own is cause for concern – particularly in otherwise healthy teenagers and young adults. Once you look at the other symptoms, and the chest x-rays of the afflicted, it’s evident that something is wrong.
Purportedly, electronic cigarette companies design products for people already hooked on cigarettes. So why do they seem to appeal to teenagers?
The main concern of watchdog groups and parents across the country is how broadly e-cigarettes appeal to young people. Some states have considered banning vape pens altogether. However, states eliminating e-cigarettes altogether is not the best option. Electronic cigarettes do have the potential to help people who already smoke. Cigarettes contain tobacco, tar, and many carcinogenic products that vape pens do not.
The real goal is not to stop vaping entirely, rather, to stop teenagers from picking up smoking from vape pens. The general agreement is that the flavoring in the cartridges is what’s appealing to young people. To this end, both the federal government and many state governments (including Florida) are considering legislation that bans the flavored pods or liquids.