Last year in an article on vaping we concluded that although it might be a slight improvement over cigarette smoking, vaping was far from safe.
Since then thousands of vapers have become ill with a serious disease called Evali (e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury), and a recent study found that vaping greatly increases the risk of contracting COVID-19.
All the more reason to “just say no” to vaping.
A New York Times article gave a harrowing description of 20-year-old Janan Moein’s experience of Evali. After vaping regularly with a cannabis-laced brand for 6 months, Mr. Moein found himself hospitalized with a collapsed lung and in a medically-induced coma. Diagnosed with Evali, he was given a 5% chance of survival. He lost nearly 50 pounds in 2 weeks and now recalls, “My lips were blue. They had to tape my eyes shut. I was hallucinating the entire time that the nurses were trying to kill me, that the walls were made of human skin. It was a really bad situation.”
Fortunately, Mr. Moein recovered has never vaped again, and is feeling quite healthy, although a pulmonologist told the Times reporter that “just because he feels 100% recovered doesn’t mean his lung function returned to 100%.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of February, 2,807 cases of Evali had been reported, 68 of them fatal.
Meanwhile, a Stanford University study found that vaping greatly increases the risk of COVID-19 among adolescents and young adults. These researchers did an online survey of more than 4,000 13- to 24-year-olds concerning their use of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes and any experiences with COVID-19.
The results? A COVID-19 diagnosis was five times more likely among “ever-users” of e-cigarettes and seven times more likely among “ever-dual-users” (one or more uses of both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes).
On a positive note, a recent New York Times article reported that fewer high school and middle school students are vaping these days. In 2019, 27.5% of all high school students reported having used an e-cigarette at least once during the past 30 days; this year 19.6% did. And middle-school use has dropped from 10.5% to 4.7%.
But these numbers are still much too high.
Nicotine is especially dangerous for young people, whose brains continue to develop into their mid-twenties. In this age group, regular nicotine use can have long-lasting negative effects on brain circuits that control attention and learning. It can lead to mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control. It also modifies the brain’s reward system, making other drugs more pleasurable and attractive.
But nicotine at any age contributes to heart disease, diabetes, long-term mental decline, and other problems. And it’s hardly the only toxin in e-cigarettes, many of which haven’t even been studied.
While he was still vaping, Mr. Moein’s father sent him so many articles on the dangers of vaping that Mr. Moein blocked his father’s number. He believed at the time that vaping was perfectly safe.
Hopefully, the word is getting out that vaping is NOT safe and can in fact be deadly.
- Gaiha SM. Association between youth smoking, electronic cigarette use, and COVID-19. Journal of Adolescent Health. October 2020;67(4):519-523.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products. Accessed September 21, 2020.
- Richtel M. E-cigarette use falls sharply among teenagers, CDC finds. New York Times, September 9, 2020.