Why vaping should be a last resort for smokers
Chris Ho// Opinions Editor
Sitting on the couch at my friends’ place, he tosses a Juul pen in my lap. Paying no heed to the many memes soon to be flooding my inbox, I inhale from the USB stick of e-cigarettes. Him and I are in a similar predicament. I want to quit smoking cigarettes with the help of vaping. And, now, he wants to quit vaping by smoking cigarettes. I think he’s crazy for smoking. He thinks I’m crazy for vaping. Lets just say 2019 has been a foggy year (pun intended, I’m so sorry).
In spite of there being significantly more chemicals in cigarettes than in vape juice, it seems like some people are becoming so desperate to quit vaping that they are actually turning back to cigarettes. With a big question mark surrounding the impacts of vaping, smokers need to be cautious before they venture to open Pandora’s vaping kit, so to speak.
The advent of e-cigarettes is a little reminiscent of cigarettes’ own heyday in the 50s. At that time there wasn’t enough evidence in circulation about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes either. Thanks to Hollywood and The Marlboro Man, smoking was just about the coolest thing you could do. Much like e-cigarette companies now, the market was faced with a prime opportunity to capitalize on a vast demographic that would buy into it and keep coming back for more.
It should come as no surprise then that an online survey has recently indicated a whopping 74 percent increase in teen vaping across Canada in a single year. Leading up to this, the slick, easy to use, and brilliantly marketed Juul pen quickly became the most popular e-cigarette in the United States—and evidently it didn’t take long for the sale of Juul vapes, and many other brands, to rise rapidly in Canada too. By the way, Juul, which spun out of the American electronic vaporizer company PAX Labs in 2017, was valued at over $15 billion as of July 2018. And later that same year, one of the world’s largest cigarette companies, Atria, bought 35% of Juul for $12.8 billion. Good for them, right?
E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation device, and yet they are listed on the Health Canada website as a viable option for quitting. It is amazing how legitimized electronic vaporizers have become, and how rapidly their usage is growing. And let’s face it, the marketing has been pretty on point. After all, around 40% of people who vape weren’t even smoking cigarettes prior to that. Considering that we don’t even know what the long-term effects of inhaling vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol will be, this is definitely concerning. I don’t think it’s a question of whether there will be long term-effects, but a matter of just how bad those long-term effects will be. One can assume it won’t be nearly as detrimental as the long-term effects of cigarettes, but as I sit here and exhale hypocritical vape clouds toward my laptop, logic will tell me that my lungs probably are unimpressed by my choices right now.
Although Health Canada is now rolling out strategies to try and curb teen usage, one has to wonder if this is going to be immediate enough for the damage that has already been done. Sure, you can take down advertisements in public areas and put up health warnings on YouTube, but controlling the plethora of ads, or any portrayal of vaping on social media is another story. The bottom line is that these e-cigarette companies have a lot invested in this gold mine, and are by no means going to be pulling out of it without a fight.
It doesn’t help that vaping is even more enjoyable than smoking—which is part of the reason why it’s so hard not to go overboard. It’s smooth, doesn’t burn, tastes like literal candy, and can easily be done indoors on your couch while watching Netflix. Quitting smoking was difficult, don’t get me wrong, but at least the thousands of chemicals, gross smell, and social stigma was working in my favour to quit. Vaping less, on the other hand, has proven itself to be a whole other beast. What’s worse is that some people take up vaping in hopes to cut out cigarettes, only to find themselves both vaping and smoking. Needless to say, this is definitely not an ideal situation.
If you are trying to quit smoking and have already tried all other options, I would highly recommend doing a bit of research on what nicotine level you should start at (which is based off how much you currently smoke). While choosing to vape is certainly the lesser of the two evils, it’s easy to end up vaping even more than you smoked in the first place—giving you what is truly an unnecessary amount of nicotine.