TLDR: The Guardian discusses the “burgeoning epidemic of e-cigarettes and vaping” and claims we are “shockingly ignorant” about vaping.
“Since 2011, e-cigarettes and vaping has increased in teens since 2011, and we still don’t know the long-term health effects
Today, it seems so obvious. Cigarettes and tobacco cause lung cancer. It is remarkable however, that this relationship wasn’t always so clearly defined. In fact, during the initial rise in individual cigarette use, the possibility that they contributed to lung cancer was laughable to some, derided by others.
Dr Evarts Graham, a pioneer of lung cancer surgery, openly scolded one of his colleagues and former trainees, Dr Alton Oschner, for suggesting in 1939 that smoking cigarettes was a “responsible factor” for the rise in lung cancer he was seeing in his own clinic. Graham reportedly responded to this suggestion by stating, “Yes, there is a parallel between the sale of cigarettes and the incidence of cancer of the lung, but there is also a parallel between the sale of nylon stockings and the incidence of lung cancer.” In other words, social trends may come and go, but their link to the changing incidence of any medical diagnosis is likely only circumstantial.
We are already well behind on the burgeoning epidemic of e-cigarettes and vaping. Recent articles from the New England Journal of Medicine and from Lancet Respiratory Medicine confirmed that vaping, essentially a non-existent habit in 2011, has continued to increase dramatically in teenagers. In 2018, according to survey data, 16% of 10th graders and 21% of 12th graders had vaped nicotine within the past 30 days. In what is perhaps the best indicator that we are not doing enough to address this crisis, those rates had increased 8% and 10% respectively from 2017, rates which, when applied nationally, translated to a staggering 1.3 million new adolescent vapers in just one year. Personally, I have already heard enough when my eighth-grade son explicitly details the vaping habits of some of his classmates along with their distribution network.
We remain shockingly ignorant about what the combustible liquids within e-cigarettes actually contain. We already made that mistake with tobacco and cigarettes. Without a doubt turning a blind eye and minimizing the risks of tobacco hurt people – our family members, our friends, and our colleagues – and helped to inflict an enormous cancer burden on them and upon our society. There are few things as heartbreaking as seeing the regret and self-blame of a former smoker newly diagnosed with lung cancer long after he or she got wise and gave up their cigarettes. Let’s not repeat those mistakes and regrets with e-cigarettes and vaping.”
Opinion: There are a lot of opinions out there about the dangers of vaping. There are certainly a lot of unknowns with vaping: what are the effects of long-term e-cigarette use? What are the effects of vaping nicotine vs smoking? etc. At the same time, I believe we need not be alarmist about everything and let the science speak for itself – and much of it still needs to be discovered. What we do know is that vaping IS safer than smoking. The rest, I’ll let you decide for yourself.