More Than a Flavor

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More Than a Flavor

Bonnie Chen, Staff Writer

There have been drastic increases in teen vaping in recent years. In December 2018, the National Institutes of Health stated that about 37% of 12th graders reported vaping, a 9% increase from 2017. A lot of people, commonly teens, believe that vaping won’t cause that much harm to the body compared to smoking. However, this belief has been proven to be false.

According to a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 66% of teen vapers mistakenly believe that the strong chemicals contained in e-cigarettes consist purely of flavoring. This is way off from the reality. Reported by NBC News, nine out of ten cases that involve vaping have led to severe lung illnesses; there has to be something other than the sweeteners mentioned above. The main components of e-cigarettes include substances called solvents. Solvents dissolve the nicotine and marijuana-derived components (THC and CBD, for example) in order to make them inhalable for users. THC is the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana, in other words, it is what causes the euphoric feelings in users. City health officials have said that out of all the people they have interviewed, 89% of them became sick after inhaling products that contain THC.

As of Aug. 29, 298 people closely-linked to vaping have been hospitalized in the U.S. This number, collected by NBC News, was a 50% increase from Aug. 23, just a week before. This has become such a big problem in teens that the City of Milwaukee Health Department officially published a health alert warning residents about this case on Aug. 28. 16 individuals have been hospitalized and confirmed with “severe chemical pneumonia” after the use of products containing nicotine or marijuana oils. Several cases are still under investigation, for researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause that specifically leads to these diseases. “We believe, looking back through our cases, that we probably have seen this in the past,” stated Dr. Robin Deterding, Director of Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. According to NBC News, besides nicotine, marijuana, metal, and other components, e-cigarette fluids may also contain unknown factors that can be dangerous and even threaten the lives of e-cigarette users. A common concern between health officials is whether these undocumented components could be the reasons behind these lung illnesses. “Vaping cartridges containing THC may include chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We strongly urge people not to vape.”

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