It is important to understand the harm that can be caused by vaping. Most cigarettes are consumed in less than five minutes. That’s the point of all those additives—they make the product burn faster. But a burning cigarette limits you. It makes you step outside, step away, separate yourself. You only have so much time to smoke a cigarette. Anyone that has worked a traditional job—retail, fast food, corporate, what have you—knows this. You have X minutes.
In that respect, vaping allows you more room. The average cigarette is usually smoked within five minutes or less, whereas the average vape session can last up to 20 minutes. That means there is more time to deliver damage. Some vape cartridges contain flavors or stabilizers that can cause inflammation in lung tissue. Furthermore, the wide availability of more unregulated products, such as cartridges containing CBD oil or THC, can contain other unknown additives as well, which make it more difficult for doctors to determine what treatment might be needed in the event that a teen user ends up in the ER.
One of the best known instances of this occurred in August through September of 2019, when doctors saw a huge spike in teens being admitted to hospitals suffering from EVALI, a vaping-associated lung damage injury in part caused by vitamin E acetate—an additive commonly found in THC vaping products. According to the CDC, symptoms of EVALI can include shortness of breath, fever and chills, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and chest pain. While some cases can be treated with corticosteroids, more severe cases can require patients to receive supplemental oxygen, including being hooked up to a ventilator. Patients treated for EVALI often also require further follow up appointments after being discharged.
Vaping can also, in some cases, lead to bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” due to containing the chemical additive Diacetyl, found in flavored vape liquids. Symptoms of BO can include coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The condition is referred to as “popcorn lung” due to illnesses suffered by workers at a factory that manufactured microwave popcorn that utilized Diacetyl in order to enhance flavor.
There is also the question of whether vaping can worsen the symptoms of COVID-19. While much is still unknown, one study suggested that individuals who vape may be five to seven times more likely to contract COVID.
All this has resulted in the World Health Organization to call on all governments to take urgent action on vaping. According to WHO estimates, aggressive marketing from vape companies has resulted in a greater number of 13–15 year-olds vaping than even adults.