By Philip S. Chua, MD
While cigarette smoking destroys lungs (first, with recurrent respiratory infections, then emphysema, COPD, and worst, lung cancer) over decades of inhaling more than 4,000 (not 400) different toxic substances, 200 of them carcinogenic (cancer-producing), vaping could kill within weeks, or months. Yes, vaping is a more vicious killer!
What is vaping?
Vaping, also termed JUULing, means using electronic cigarette or other vaping devices (vape pens, advanced personal vaporizers called MODS) to orally inhale substances that contain nicotine and other agents. Many users thought the vaping liquid contained only water and flavoring and did not even know that vaping agents have nicotine in them. It is now obvious that vaping is deadlier than tobacco.
How about e-cigarette smoking?
Electronic cigarette was introduced as a “safe and non-addicting” substitute for cigarette smoking, to transition to finally quitting. The device is battery-operated and heats up a liquid to form vapors, more like a aerosol or vaporizer inhaler (vaping). The ingredients include flavorings, nicotine, and in some cases marijuana, and other potentially toxic substances.
On May 15, 2001, we wrote this column below:
Smoking is Slow-Suicide
Smoking kills. It is that plain and simple. There is no more doubt today that tobacco (cigarette smoking) is the predominant cause of lung cancer, besides other malignancies and cardiovascular diseases that maim and kill. In the United States alone, almost half a million die each year from smoking-related illnesses. These are preventable deaths! Demographic studies have shown that smokers are about 10 times more prone to die premature deaths than non-smokers. This unnecessary loss of lives is at an immense direct cost for non-smokers in terms of increased health risks from passive smoking, in higher health insurance premiums and taxes, not to mention personal and family tragedies in all shapes and forms.
As we have alluded to in a previous column, secondhand smoke is even more dangerous. Innocent bystanders are forced to inhale cigarette smoke at their workplaces or in public places, thus increasing their health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency engineers have shown that even the best available ventilation and air-moving equipment were unable to reduce carcinogenic (cancer-causing) air contamination to a safe level for a non-smoker sharing workspace with a habitual smoker. Physical isolation of the smoker is most essential as shown by these scientific studies.
Tobacco use leads to four times as many excess deaths annually compared to all other drugs and alcohol abuse combined, ten times more than all automobile fatalities per year, twelve times more than deaths from AIDS, and much more than all the American military casualties (in all wars) in this century put together. That’s how dangerous and damaging tobacco is to the human body and to society as a whole.
At the beginning of the past century, lung cancer was almost an insignificant health problem for the world. It became a minor problem in the 1930s (death rate of 5 per 10,000). Today, it has become the main killer among men and women. Since women started “really” smoking in the 1950s, “because it was glamorized in ads by actresses and models as a sophisticated and fashionable habit,” lung cancer in females has increased at least six-fold, an alarming rate, with death rate comparable to that in males. Women also have added risks: osteoporosis, thrombophlebitis (vein inflammation and blood clot formation), arthritis, infertility, cervical cancer, and menstrual irregularities. Pregnant smokers face miscarriages, stillbirths, low-birth weight and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) babies. Almost 30,000 female lives are snuffed out every year as a result of smoking. Of the 4 billion cigarette-related deaths in the world each year, about half a billion are women. It is now the top killer among women. Today, one woman dies from cigarette-related illness every three minutes! And now comes vaping, another killer habit!
Is there a safe way of vaping?
No, there is not! This question is like asking if there is a safe way of shooting oneself in the head or a non-deadly way of swallowing cyanide. As statistics now show, vaping kills, and fast! Nicotine alone jacks up your adrenalin, heart rate, and blood pressure, increasing your risk for a heart attack and stroke. Not to mention the other toxic chemicals in vaping agents, like propylene glycol, and glycerin and flavorings (cinnamon, cherry, vanilla, etc.), plus others. Scientists believe that even the flavorings themselves react with the propylene glycol and nicotine to form highly toxic liquid disastrous for the lungs fast.
When was death from vaping first reported?
It was in 2016 when the risk of serious events that included death from vaping was reported. These were the signs and symptoms described: throat irritation, shortness of breath, abdominal pains, blurring of vision, cough nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, disorientation, chest pains, fall in blood pressure, seizure, heart failure. This year, 2019, there was an outbreak of severe lung diseases in many states in the USA, linked to vaping. As of November 15, about 2 weeks ago, 39 deaths related to vaping have been confirmed. Many victims were teenagers and young adults. Death toll is expected to rise, unless society as a whole, including the government, does something fast.
How popular is vaping?
The proliferation of vaping has been dramatic, particularly among teenagers. Studies in 2018 show that 37% of high school seniors did vaping, 28% higher than the year before. In 2017, it was estimated that 2.1 million middle and high school students smoked e-cigarettes, which number exploded to 3.6 million in 2018. CDC survey reported almost 7 million adults, 18 and older, used e-cigarettes in 2017.
What are the other consequences of vaping?
Besides the ill-health effects listed above, vaping could adversely affects the developing brain of youngsters and even adults. Some ingredients in e-cigarettes increases the risk for cancer. Teens who vape are more prone to smoke cigarettes. Acute nicotine poisoning has been reported among children and some adults due to accidental exposure to liquids in e-cigarettes. There have been reports of explosions and burns while recharging e-cigarette devices due to faulty batteries. Vaping among pregnant women harms the developing fetus.
My question is: Don’t we already have too many diseases today that maim and kill, for us to still invent new ways of hurting ourselves and prematurely ending our life?