Photo Courtesy of Denx arman,  Pexels

Maybe you started vaping in college – or worse, high school. Maybe you’re just now picking it up because you were the only one in your friend group without a Puff Bar. Originally marketed as a way to help older generations ease out of cigarettes, vapes (or e-cigarettes, as they were once commonly referred to) are dominating Gen Z and Millennial social circles. With flavors ranging from strawberries and cream to cola to “clear” and eye-catching colors that make it easy to mistake them for a child’s toy, its no wonder the vaping epidemic has swept younger generations.

In America, we’re living in an era when cigarettes can almost be considered vintage. In 1997, Bill Clinton ordered a smoking ban in federal buildings. It was around this time that many bars and restaurants stopped allowing people to smoke inside. Many smokers have since expressed that bans like these made it significantly easier to quit since the habit was simply not as convenient. Vaping erases that inconvenience almost altogether. The size and portability of these devices is comparable to a small USB drive, allowing users to use them almost anywhere. Without the harsh smell that is characteristic of cigarettes, vapes are much easier to conceal.

Photo Courtesy of Muhammad Lutfy, Pexels

One of the biggest health concerns about vaping is its impact on young people’s developing brains. Nicotine, the addictive substance found in both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, can have serious effects on the developing brain, particularly for individuals under the age of 25. These include changes in mood, and deficits in attention and memory. Sustained consumption of nicotine can even increase the risk of addiction to other substances later in life.

In addition to the dangers of nicotine addiction, vaping has also been linked to a range of other health problems, including lung damage and disease, heart disease, and even cancer. Many e-cigarette products also contain other harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, that can have long-term health effects.

Despite these risks, vaping habits continue to rise among young people. In fact, recent studies indicate that more than one in four high school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. This trend is especially alarming given the variety of potential long-term effects of nicotine addiction and just how unknown the health risks associated with long-term vaping are due to the relative newness of the habit.

Photo Courtesy of Olena Bohovyk, Pexels

To address the issue, some policymakers have called for stricter regulations on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes. Restrictions have been placed on the sale of certain flavors, limitations passed on advertising blatantly aimed at young people, and legislation has also increased penalties for retailers who sell e-cigarettes to minors.

But as with most things, it comes down to the individual. Government regulations have been placed and the people have been warned, but you’re not exactly likely to come across anyone who thinks smoking is a good thing. Regardless, millions of people have developed addictions because of these devices, and trying to quit cold turkey doesn’t work for most. However, physical withdrawal symptoms do stop as soon as two weeks after your last hit, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a plethora of stop-smoking aids and resources to help you along the way.

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