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Vaping and Secondhand Vapor: Understanding the Risks


Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol produced by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or similar device. E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid, usually containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals, to create an aerosol that the user inhales.

Vaping has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among young people. In 2021, about 15% of high school students and 3.6% of middle school students reported vaping in the past month.

While vaping is often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, there are still risks associated with it. These risks include:

  • Nicotine addiction
  • Lung injury
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Other health problems

Secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes can also be harmful to non-vapers. Secondhand vapor can contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that can be inhaled into the lungs.

The Risks of Vaping

The risks of vaping are still being studied, but there is some evidence that it can cause a number of health problems, including:

  • Nicotine addiction: E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Nicotine can harm the developing brain of adolescents and young adults.
  • Lung injury: In 2019, there was a nationwide outbreak of lung injuries associated with vaping. The cause of these injuries is still unknown, but they have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
  • Heart disease: Vaping can increase the risk of heart disease. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who vaped were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Cancer: Some studies have shown that vaping can increase the risk of cancer. A study published in the journal Cancer Research found that people who vaped were more likely to develop lung cancer than people who did not vape.
  • Other health problems: Vaping can also cause other health problems, such as:
    • Bronchitis
    • Shortness of breath
    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness

The Risks of Secondhand Vapor

Secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes can also be harmful to non-vapers. Secondhand vapor can contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that can be inhaled into the lungs.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that non-vapers who were exposed to secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes had higher levels of nicotine in their blood than non-vapers who were not exposed to secondhand vapor.

Another study published in the journal Thorax found that non-vapers who were exposed to secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes were more likely to experience symptoms of bronchitis, such as cough, phlegm, and shortness of breath.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

If you are concerned about the risks of vaping, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Do not vape. This is the best way to avoid the risks of vaping.
  • Avoid secondhand vapor. If you are around someone who is vaping, try to stay at least six feet away from them.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you are concerned about the risks of vaping, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the risks and make the best decision for your health.

The risks of vaping are still being studied, but there is some evidence that it can cause a number of health problems. Secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes can also be harmful to non-vapers. If you are concerned about the risks of vaping, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

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