Should Flavored E-cigarettes Be Banned?
In reaction to the looming federal ban on certain types of flavored e-cigarettes, currently being led by New York and Michigan who have already banned most flavored e-liquids, vaping enthusiasts are stocking up on e-liquid.
Groups like the American Vaping Association are also warning of a return by many vapers to smoking cigarettes in the face of wide-scale vaping bans.
The reason for the impending federal ban is that there have been 530 reported cases of lung injury in the US as of September 19th. The use of e-cigarettes has also been linked to seven deaths in six states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The problem is that information on the long-term risks of vaping has yet to become available. While short term studies have shown that some risks exist, and e-cigarettes becoming the root cause of fatalities is concerning, the CDC also acknowledged that smoking will account for roughly 480,000 deaths this year in the US.
In this article, we will be examining the potential health risks of vaping, asking whether those risks outweigh the risk of a return to smoking and examine what the potential basis is for a ban on flavored e-liquids.
The Health Consequences of Vaping
The American Lung Association recently released a statement warning that “e-cigarettes are not safe” and that they should not be used by young adults, pregnant women, or those who do not already use tobacco products because of recent studies showing that vaping can cause irreversible lung damage and disease.
To an extent this is accurate, vaping has been linked to the following short term health complications:
- Dry mouth
- Sore mouth
- Tongue inflammation
- Black tongue
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
Long term studies have been hampered by the fact that vaping is a relatively recent invention, however, a study in 2019 pointed out that e-liquid aerosols contain particulates, oxidizing agents, aldehydes, and nicotine, all of which can have a negative effect on the heart and lungs.
Studies in 2017, 2018, and 2019 all reported that vaping was associated with an increased risk of a stroke, heart attack, angina, and heart disease.
Is it Worse Than Smoking?
No, absolutely not. As already mentioned, there will be roughly 480,000 deaths this year in the US due to smoking.
Multiple studies have produced strong evidence that smoking has the following side effects, both short and long term:
- Makes your blood thicker, and increase chances of clot formation
- Increases your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal
- Narrows your arteries, reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood circulating to your organs.
- Damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
- Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer or ulcers.
- Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing kidney cancer.
- Smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years and makes it three
times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth.
- Smoking can cause your bones to become weak and brittle.
- Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke by at least 50%
- Smoking can cause fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer.
- Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- More than 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancer in part of the throat) are caused by smoking.
- Smoking can cause male impotence, as it damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis.
- Studies estimated that the fertility of smoking women was only 72% that of non-smokers.
- Smoking also increases your risk of cervical cancer. People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, which can develop into cancer.
- Smoking while you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, and illness, and it increases the risk of cot death by at least 25%.
Should Flavored E-cigarettes Be Banned?
The current reasoning behind the bans on flavored e-cigarettes currently in place is that, because they are flavored, e-cigarettes are targeted at children and young people.
While this is a reasonable supposition, there are already restrictions in place that prevent minors from buying other restricted substances, such as alcohol and tobacco that did not necessitate a ban.
The Royal College of Physicians, an organization representing over 35,000 doctors worldwide, has stated that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
While it is obvious that more attention needs to be paid to health concerns around vaping and how flavored e-cigarettes are marketed, the simple fact is that banning e-cigarettes will force people back to smoking tobacco, which will account for far more than six deaths in the long run.
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