In the last decade, we have seen a rise in the popularity of vaping and e-cigarettes. While marketed as safer, there are still serious health risks that come along with vaping and e-cigarettes.
“Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, and e-cigars are known collectively as ENDS—electronic nicotine delivery systems. According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol containing nicotine or other substances. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are generally battery-operated and use a heating element to heat e-liquid from a refillable cartridge, releasing a chemical-filled aerosol.” –American Lung Association
Health Risks of Vaping and E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to combustible tobacco products. They are considered as a “safer” way to consume nicotine.
New research, however, is challenging that belief with more evidence about the risks of these products:
- Highly addictive
- Exposure to toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Inflammation of the lungs
- Difficulty breathing
- Irreversible lung damage/ lung disease
- Increased risk of heart attack
Environmental Impact of Vaping and E-Cigarettes
Aside from the obvious health risks, our environment and air quality are also feeling the ill effects of e-cigarettes.
There has been a huge push in recent years to stop the use of single use plastic products like straws and k-cups, and yet e-cigarettes are just as environmentally irresponsible. Each JUUL cartridge, or pod, contains 200 puffs and is intended for a single-use.
Here’s a warning from Yogi H. Hendid, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, with a background in environmental philosophy and public health: “[E-cigarettes and vaping products’] endocrine-disrupting plastics, lithium-ion batteries, and electronic circuit boards require disassembly, sorting, and proper recycling and disposal. Their instructions do not say anything about disposal. Electronic waste (e-waste) already presents a daunting environmental quandary and is notoriously difficult to recycle. When littered, broken devices can leach metals, battery acid, and nicotine into the local environment and urban landscape.”
As the debate over how to regulate this e-cigarette epidemic continues, it is just as important to consider the environmental effects as well as the immediate and secondhand effects of the products.