While many strides have been made in the world of tobacco prevention and cessation, the use of vape devices and e-cigarettes is skyrocketing, especially among younger populations. There are many misconceptions about vape devices, so let’s clear some up once and for all. Keep reading for truths to counter five common beliefs about e-cigarettes.
Myth: Using e-cigarettes is harmless.
While it is true that early research shows e-cigarettes to be slightly less harmful than cigarettes (the dangers of cigarettes are pretty hard to beat!), e-cigarettes are by no means harmless.
E-cigarettes have only been on the market for about a decade, so researchers haven’t been able to tell the long term health effects of them just yet. However, we do know that in the short term, e-cigarette use has been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure, promote blood clots, and cause damage to veins and arteries. Nonsmokers who use e-cigarettes daily are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who don’t use e-cigarettes.1 There have even been reports of serious burns and other injuries caused by e-cigarette malfunctions and explosions.2
Myth: E-cigarettes don’t contain nicotine.
Actually, most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine. Many e-juices contain high concentrations of nicotine. For example, an individual JUUL cartridge contains the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes.2
Myth: You can’t get addicted to e-cigarettes.
People who use e-cigarettes can absolutely become addicted to them. In fact, e-cigarettes can be just as addictive as traditional cigarettes.3 As mentioned above, many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug. Because the brain is still developing in adolescence, youth can more easily become addicted to nicotine than adults.4 However, people at any age can develop an addiction to nicotine if exposed to the drug.
Myth: Using e-cigarettes will help me quit smoking.
Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true! Studies show that people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes than if they had never tried vaping in the first place. Other research shows that 80% of smokers who switch to e-cigarettes as a stepping stone to tobacco cessation still end up using e-cigarettes one year later, simply having replaced one addiction for another.5 To date, the Food and Drug Administration has not found e-cigarettes to be safe or effective in helping smokers quit.6
Instead of turning to e-cigarettes to stop smoking, ask your doctor for FDA-approved methods to quit, or call the Alaska Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You can also access free support online at alaskaquitline.com or smokefree.gov.
Myth: What I inhale when I use an e-cigarette is just flavored water vapor.
The aerosol inhaled from e-cigarettes is not just flavored water vapor. Instead, it contains dangerous chemicals such as acrolein and diacetyl, which can cause serious lung damage; formaldehyde, which has been shown to cause cancer; benzene, which is in car exhaust; and other toxic metal particles like chromium, lead, and nickel.6,7
Myth: It’s ok for me to use e-cigarettes at work or inside public buildings.
Sorry, but no. In October 2018, Alaska passed Senate Bill 63, which made it illegal to smoke cigarettes or use e-cigarettes inside workplaces. There are health risks associated with breathing in secondhand e-cigarette aerosol, so if you’re going to vape, please take it outside.
The bottom line: There are significant risks of vaping, and e-cigarettes are by no means harmless. So why risk it?