Use of electronic nicotine delivery devices, including E-Cigs, has been growing rapidly in the last few years, particularly among young people. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three million middle and high school students are current users of e-cigarettes, up from 2.5 million in 2014. Previous research has shown that teenagers who try e-cigarettes may be more than twice as likely to try conventional cigarettes as opposed to adolescents who have never tried the devices.
The Lure of E-Cigs
In 2013, a team of Yale researchers surveyed Connecticut middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes and asked them what originally attracted them to the devices. They said they were initially drawn to vaping for several reasons:
- Different flavors offered
- Use by friends
- Low cost
- A desire to quit smoking regular cigarettes
When the researchers returned six months later to see who was still using e-cigarettes, the students who had said they were initially attracted to e-cigarettes because they wanted to quit smoking traditional cigarettes were actually 14 times more likely to still be vaping. The results of the study were recently published online in the journal Pediatrics.
Different Flavors = Diacetyl
While many in the vaping/E-cigarette industry deny the use of diacetyl in their products, there are no regulations to restrict them from using it to make the flavored E-juice. Diacetyl is a chemical that gives many food products its distinctly butter-like flavor. Although many organizations continue to petition the FDA to change their treatment of diacetyl, as of today, manufacturers are still able to refer to products using diacetyl as “natural or artificial flavorings”
Diacetyl Lawsuits – Popcorn Lung
Bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare, dangerous, lung disease with no known cure. It has been referred to as “popcorn lung” as a result of a series of successful lawsuits by popcorn factory workers who were diagnosed with this disease while inhaling diacetyl while on the job. Diacetyl lawsuits have also been filed by workers in other plants that use diacetyl such as candy, tortilla, coffee, pet food amongst other products.
While there are currently no known E-cig users diagnosed with popcorn lung, many experts are watching for this connection and it is something that frequent E-cig users should investigate for themselves.
No Evidence That E-Cigarettes Help People Stop Smoking Traditional Cigarettes
The Yale study also found that 80 percent of those who said they first tried e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking were still smoking cigarettes six months later. Maryellen Bolcer, a health promotion specialist for the Teen SSmoke stoppers program, said that the research supports one of the biggest misconceptions about e-cigarettes – they don’t help people quit smoking. She has long maintained that e-cigarettes can be just as dangerous as regular cigarettes, mainly because many of them contain nicotine and other dangerous chemicals, including Diacetyl and its equally dangerous substitutes.
While the perception has been that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, there is no evidence that completely backs up this theory and little is known about the health risks of these devices. Previous studies have found low levels of aldehydes (chemical compounds that can cause oxidative stress and cell damage) in e-cigarette aerosols, tiny liquid particles suspended in a puff of air.