By: Melinda Li
Edited by: Sophia Collis
Who is vaping?
On August 24, 2019, the first vaping-related death in the US was reported in Illinois amidst a string of similar cases involving severe respiratory disease and e-cigarette use.  In a media statement addressing the event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield said: “This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products, [which] are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.” [2
There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of vapers, and the market is expanding to meet the influx of demand. The US is by far the largest market for vape products, followed by the United Kingdom and France. In 2018, the three countries collectively spent more than 10 billion dollars on smokeless tobacco and vaping products.  This rise is particularly prominent among adolescents. The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey found that the percentage of secondary students who report having vaped nicotine in the past month has approximately doubled since 2017.  A July 2018 Gallup survey found that younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to vape and less likely to believe that vaping has health risks. 
What is vaping?
“Vaping” is a common term that describes the use of an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are small electronic devices that heat a liquid, typically containing nicotine and flavorings, to produce an aerosol which is then inhaled by users. A grave issue in regard to the manufacture of e-cigarettes is that it’s not certain what exact chemicals comprise the aerosol. It is, however, known that e-cigarettes may contain nicotine, ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and carcinogens. 
Troublingly, the chemical composition of e-cigarettes is masked behind advertisements of their appealing flavorings, including fruit and candy. A 2013-2014 survey found that 81 percent of youth e-cigarette users were most drawn to e-cigarette usage because of the variety of flavorings available.  In response to concerns over respiratory illnesses potentially caused by e-cigarettes and rising rates of e-cigarette usage by adolescents, the Trump administration announced in September of this year that it would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. 
How harmful is vaping?
Nicotine is the primary active substance in both conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It is a toxic and highly addictive substance that can affect the developing brain, making rising rates in adolescent vaping all the more concerning. Nicotine also increases both adrenaline levels and blood pressure, which increases an individual's risk of having a heart attack.  A study from 2013-2016 yielded data that demonstrated that adolescents who vape are more likely to eventually smoke regular cigarettes than adolescents who don't.  Furthermore, accidental exposure to liquid in e-cigarettes has resulted in acute nicotine poisoning in children and adults. 
In all, although vaping is less harmful than traditional smoking, e-cigarettes are equally as addictive as traditional ones. There is also still a great deal we don't know about vaping as it relates to health, especially regarding the long-term impact of e-cigarette use. Given this, it is the author's recommendation that one thinks twice before vaping.
 BBC News. First death linked to vaping reported in US. BBC. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49452256
 Redfield R. CDC Director’s Statement on the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in people who use e-cigarette or “vaping” devices. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0823-vaping-related-death.html
 Jones L. Vaping: How popular are e-cigarettes? BBC News. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44295336
 Schaeffer K. Before recent outbreak, vaping was on the rise in U.S., especially among young people. Pew Research Center. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/26/vaping-survey-data-roundup/
 Newport F. Young People Adopt Vaping as Their Smoking Rate Plummets. Gallup. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://news.gallup.com/poll/237818/young-people-adopt-vaping-smoking-rate-plummets.aspx
 Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html
 Vaporizers, E-Cigarettes, and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/vaporizers-e-cigarettes-and-other-electronic-nicotine-delivery-systems-ends
 Kaplan S. Trump Administration Plans to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes. The New York Times. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/health/trump-vaping.html
 Blaha M. 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping
 Berry K, Fetterman J, Benjamin E, Bhatnagar A, Barrington-Trimis J, Leventhal A et al. Association of Electronic Cigarette Use With Subsequent Initiation of Tobacco Cigarettes in US Youths. JAMA Network Open [Internet]. 2019 [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]; 2(2):e187794. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7794
 Shmerling R. Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know. Harvard Health Publishing. [Internet] [Cited 2019 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-vaping-damage-your-lungs-what-we-do-and-dont-know-2019090417734