Vaping: Is it really safer than smoking?

By Gabrielle Cellucci
November 13, 2019

The remains of a cigarette laying on the edge of an outdoor ashtray. Photo credit by Gabrielle Cellucci
The remains of a cigarette laying on the edge of an outdoor ashtray. Photo credit by Gabrielle Cellucci

Vaping is the new smoking. People are putting away tobacco cigarettes for electronic cigarettes, such as vape pens and JUULs because some people believe vaping is safer than smoking. However, some people are unaware of the number of chemicals used in vaping devices. Since vaping is still considered to be a relatively new alternative to smoking, scientists are not completely sure what the long term effects are caused by vaping. 

Electronic cigarettes were originally designed to help people who want to quit smoking to do so in a gradual process rather than quitting cold turkey. Now it appears to be the new smoking trend, especially for young adults and teens. 

Richard Ardizzone, freshman criminology major, explained how he used to be a chain smoker in eighth grade due to one of his buddies introducing him to Newport cigarettes. He eventually quit cigarettes because he said that he noticed how easily winded he got whenever he tried to play sports. Once he started to play basketball, he quit smoking altogether because he could not keep up with his teammates when they ran suicides at practice. He further explained how after quitting smoking he became curious about vaping and decided to try it due to his peers talking about JUULs.

An outdoor ashtray outside of Dixon House. Photo credit by Gabrielle Cellucci

“When high school came around, JUUL came out…then as a sophomore, I bought one just to see what the f**k the hype was about,” Ardizzone said. “I would JUUL but not as often. I was fortunate because I would pick it up for a month, put it down for two months and then go back to it when I was stressed.” 

Ardizzone does believe that in some ways vaping is a healthier alternative than smoking, but also believes that smoke or vapor is not meant to be in people’s lungs. Ardizzone said it takes about six months for the lungs to clear up from vaping. Ardizzone decided to quit vaping about a month ago because he plans to join the military after college and did not want the repercussions of vaping to come back and haunt him in the future.

Ardizzone is more aware of the health risks related to vaping compared to Victoria Lepore, sophomore business major, who has never vaped before. 

“[I’m] sort of aware. Although, I haven’t really looked into it,” Lepore said.  “I’ve never really been into stuff like that. I think it’s bad for the human body,” she said. She confessed that she never found vaping appealing or felt pressured to try vaping.

According to the Kids Health website, the body becomes addicted to the nicotine found in e-cigarettes and nicotine can impair brain growth and development in teens. E-cigarettes can cause damage to the lungs and may cause people to want to smoke tobacco cigarettes. 

The American Lung Association has reviewed over 800 studies concerning the effects of vaping on the human body. Since vaping is relatively new, it is unknown what the long-term effects of vaping are and how long-term vaping affects the body. One of the studies that the American Lung Association reviewed, it stated that e-cigarettes contain numerous harmful chemicals such as acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde; which are capable of causing lung disease and cardiovascular disease. 

Susan Fitzgerald, the nurse at the Student Health Center, believes that vaping negatively affects the lungs due to the chemicals in vaping damaging the lining of the lungs, which causes breathing problems and other lung-related diseases to occur.

“Vaping affects the lungs in a lot of ways that we’re not exactly sure about, but we know it causes damage,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re not exactly sure why some people experience serious illness and disease and even death from vaping, but there are a lot of chemicals in vaping that are hazardous to our health.” 

Fitzgerald said that vaping can trigger different types of diseases, such as asthma, wet lung, chronic upper respiratory infections and other types of diseases. Fitzgerald also said that no one really knows the long-term effects of vaping due to vaping only being around for a few years and not much research has been put into it. In her honest opinion, Fitzgerald does not know anyone in the healthcare industry who believes vaping is better than smoking. She thinks that there were hopes that e-cigarettes would help stop people from smoking tobacco, but it has not played out how those people had hoped.

Health Services sign and room number. Photo credit by Gabrielle Cellucci

Some people believe that the e-liquid in e-cigarettes is simply water mixed with nicotine, but it is actually a mixture of a variety of chemicals that can be very harmful to the human body. The American Lung Association’s website mentions that the two main ingredients in the vapor for e-cigarettes are propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, which are toxic to human body cells. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved of e-cigarettes or any other vaping device as a method to quit smoking. 

The pending question on everyone’s mind now is whether vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes with tobacco. Though e-cigarettes have fewer chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes because of the absence of tobacco, e-cigarettes can still cause people to contract many of the same diseases that are caused by smoking, including lung disease and cardiovascular disease. It is also uncertain what the long-term effects of vaping can do to a person over time. Vaping is not safer than smoking.

Gabrielle Cellucci

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