Vaping and False-Vindication: Part 2

Welcome back to an analysis of the vaping trend. If you are reading this, you should know what vaping and glycerine are already from part 1. No worries if you aren't caught up - check out part 1 for some background information. Is vaping bad for asthma? In this article, we will dive right into some recent studies on vaping and what is happening with it across the United States.

Is vaping bad for asthma?

Some doctors will give credence to the idea that vaping is an option to ween off nicotine and smoking. However, most medical professionals are firm in the stance that the habit of vaping is not much better than smoking. It seems that the more we learn, the more 'avoid entirely' is the recommendation.

Researchers are still trying to get an idea of what the long term effects of vaping could be, but this is difficult because vaping technology is fairly new. However, the short-term effects are being studied vigorously. A 2017 study with 54 participants, including 27 asthmatics, showed that 100% of participants experienced airway irritation and inflammation. Additionally, the asthmatic participants took twice as long to recover after the study concluded.1

This study was done with all participants vaping a control e-liquid with no nicotine, cannabinoids, or additives. What is most frightening is that most e-liquids on the market are not nearly this ‘clean.’

What's in the e-liquids?

A recent study conducted by the Chan School of Public Health at Harvard looked into what is in the common e-cigarette liquids. As they examined the contents of 24 common e-cigarette brands, they found that every brand contained at least one additive that has made the harmful-chemical list.2

From artificial flavors to preservatives, the commodity e-liquids on the market are full of chemicals that should not be ingested, let alone vaporized and inhaled. These were legal products too, and the use of black market e-liquid is just as common. The difficulty, as a consumer, is knowing what exactly is in the e-liquid and how the mystery additives will affect your lung health.

Unfortunate consequences of vaping

Under-regulated and black market manufacturing of vaping devices has been connected to many casualties across the United States. The Washington Post recently reported 1,299 illness cases related to vaping and at least 28 deaths.3 This would be considered an epidemic if viral or bacterial.

As rising numbers of serious health complications associated with vaping emerge, it's important to remember that these aren't instances of older people with lowered immune function. The same article reports that the median age of 53 patients tracked was 19; a third of these cases were put on respirators.3 If younger, presumably healthier, lungs are being affected by these caustic clouds of vapor, it's terrifying to think what complications someone with a chronic lung condition would experience.

Response to the vaping crisis

Vaping illness is panicking the public health community and lawmakers alike. Though as they rush to combat the epidemic, they seem to take a path that has historically never worked; ban them all! Vice News is keeping a running list of states that have banned the sale of glycerine vaporizers and flavored e-juice. As of right now, the number is at nine states.4

Lawmakers are in a panic to stop the rising number of casualties, but prohibition has never stopped the sale of any commodity. Historically, prohibition has only promoted black markets and organized crime. Some of the deaths have already been linked to black market vaping products, and these products will be unaffected by any sort of ban and will flood the market as legal product sale is halted.

The takeaway for vaping and asthma

Is vaping bad for asthma? Yes, and to conclude, vaping is truly the new smoking, with the same novelty, addictiveness, additives, and consequences whether you have a chronic disease or not. As more people become ill from vaping, it's easy to see the hindsight of false-vindication given to it. Unfortunately, like smoking, vaping is probably here to stay; vast lobbying resources make it difficult to have any overarching impact on the sale of vape products and banning things will inflate the black market products.

Your best bet as a consumer is: to not consume. Research has shown that short term effects to the lungs can be severe and now we are starting to see the growing number of longer-term effects as potentially fatal. Those that are managing a chronic lung condition such as asthma, COPD or lung cancer are best to stay far away from vaping.

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