The planet of the vapes
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By: Sasha Dhesi
I went back to my hometown a few weeks ago and found myself tickled pink by the presence of a vape memorabilia shop right next to my mother’s favourite health store, something that struck me to be a bit antithetical. In the past few months, it seems that vaping has become ubiquitous: it’s hard to go to any sort of social event without running into a bunch of fuccbois vaping, or go through a convenience store without eyeing the display case full of flavoured e-cigarettes aimed at the younger crowds. And this sudden obsession with a treatment for cigarette smokers by non-smokers is fascinating to anyone who’s on the outside looking in, while coughing.
So what is vaping exactly? It turns out that the general science behind it is pretty simple. A super heated coil called an atomizer heats up a fluid with nicotine and turns it into a vapour that users inhale, making it somewhat analogous to smoking. However, it’s not as harmful as actual cigarettes since it doesn’t produce as heavy of smoke laced with harmful chemicals and users don’t tend to inhale as deeply. It does still contain nicotine, which can damage someone’s cardiovascular health and impair fetal development, but alone it is not a carcinogen.
So what does it mean for the users? Is it a good alternative for those who want to smoke? Is it a “gateway” to smoking? These questions have plagued researchers for a while now.
As someone who grew up in a household full of smokers, trust me when I say that anything, and I mean anything, that could cause someone to start smoking cigarettes is harmful. It’s difficult for young people to fully comprehend the long-term effects of smoking, but as someone who has been in a slew of hospital rooms caused by those little cancer sticks, it’s not worth any rush. At this point though, we all know this and I’m most likely preaching to the choir.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good things about vaping. Vaping is a much less intrusive and safer method of using nicotine compared to its traditional counterpart. The vapour is mostly water, and while it remains somewhat intrusive visually speaking, I would still take wading through some water vapour over inhaling God knows how many carcinogens through second-hand smoke.
But it’s hard to deny the connection between vaping and smoking. Although some researchers have argued that it is not a gateway to smoking, citing the number of smokers who turn to vaping to quit smoking, becoming addicted to nicotine does pose the risk of eventually becoming hooked on cigarettes. It doesn’t help that companies now market towards younger demographics with flavoured, colourful vape sticks next to the candy section in local gas stations. Moreover, it’s not as if nicotine is free of harmful effects, and to market anything to say the contrary is hurting the community. But if people are going to use nicotine anyway, why stop this inoffensive method?
Given how strongly linked vaping is to smoking, there are interesting implications for vaping in public. Currently you can vape anywhere, but due to its physical ressamblance to smoking, many restaurants, offices and the like ban its use. With no legal basis are these policies acceptable?
Ultimately, it’s too early to make a statement on whether or not vaping is fine and we, as a society, just have to wait and see if people en masse drop dead because of this one fad. Vaping is a becoming a part of our mainstream culture, whether we like it or not. While it’s undeniably complicated, I would still urge those who are interested in it to forgo it. With that said, if you’re going to use nicotine, why not use this unobtrusive method? There’s so much back-and-forth on vaping, that it almost feels futile to even try to establish an opinion. Just do you what you want and try not to die.
Photo Credit: ecigclick