Vaping causes serious illness in healthy young adults and adolescents. It causes toxicity and injuries that can reduce life expectancy and sometimes they can even lead to death. Its damage seems irreversible and irreparable.
A recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that 53 hospitalized patients suffered from toxicity and severe lung damage. The average age of these patients was 19 years.
In its short history, vaping has led to hospitalizations, weeks of intensive care, lung failure, an urgent need for a cardiopulmonary bypass device. When all these procedures have failed, the tragic death of these healthy young people occurred.
Due to the knowledge gained in the development of new lung imaging techniques, and given the impact of inhalation of tobacco and vaping on lung health it is mind-boggling that governments and other regulators have chosen to distance themselves from the risks posed by e-cigarettes.
We all should be concerned that the marketing of E-cigarettes is persuasive, invasive and widespread, especially when it is aimed at children and adolescents whose lung growth and development is not yet complete.
According to recent reports of patients suffering from pulmonary toxicity related to vaping, oily substances have been discovered in their white blood cells, lung tissue, and bronchi.
Although it is possible that these substances come from the mixture of nicotine and THC contained in the e-cigarettes used by these patients, it is still difficult to understand and establish how the use of e-cigarettes induces these potentially fatal lung diseases.
A quarter of high school students are vaping
Sold as a safe product, a cool alternative to cigarettes, it is not surprising that e-cigarettes have become popular with children and adolescents. Between 2017 and 2018, the e-cigarette penetration rate among high school students in the United States doubled to 21%, which is higher than the number of smokers, children or adults. It is estimated that by 2019 this percentage will reach 25%.
Electronic cigarettes are very flexible to use which makes it is easy to combine ingredients, oils or cartridges. Sadly these products are promoted to young people who have the time and energy to invent new mixtures, who are not aware of the risks they run and are sensitive to peer pressure.
Aggressive marketing combined with lack of safety testing
We have known for decades that exposure to chemicals in high-risk professions and the systematic inhalation of gases and smoke causes lung damage. So why should we assume that e-cigarettes are not so dangerous?
Why is the aggressive marketing of e-cigarettes acceptable in grocery stores and gas stations when cigarettes are hidden on closed shelves in the same stores? Worse still, small vaping shops offer free substitutes without any safety tests. This practice must be reported, investigated and banned.
For all these reasons, it is necessary to re-evaluate the regulation of vaping products their advertising and their availability in shops and to strengthen their control as we have done with tobacco. Flavors that are promoted directly to children should be banned. Medical staff and the scientific community must speak out loud and clear about the risks, beyond their offices, laboratories, and clinics – until things change.
Multinational companies like Big Vape and Big Tobacco have always found new and clever ways to take advantage of tragic decisions, addictions, and misunderstandings about inhaled products. And they will continue to do so, with adults, teenagers, and children.