Letter to the Editor: The toxic science behind vaping
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Letter to the Editor: The toxic science behind vaping

Dear Editor, 

I am writing to you because the health of every USD Student is important to me.  I have spent my career advocating for youth and young adult health and this is a conversation I want to have with all of you.  This is what you need to know about vaping.

JUUL and other e-cig cartridges are loaded with extremely high levels of nicotine, one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Vaping delivers an extremely potent jolt of nicotine salts and benzoic acid directly to your brain. Nicotine addiction takes less than 10 days.

Nicotine salt and benzoic acid vaporize at a low temperature causing a ‘throat hit,’ allowing you to inhale and absorb much higher levels of nicotine than combustible cigarettes.

Vaping can mess with your brain. Because the brain continues to develop through your 20s, nicotine exposure can disrupt the neurotransmitter circuits that control attention, impulse control, mood, and your ability to learn. 

Flavored pods and cartridges present even more dangers – they can kill you.  The fruit and candy flavorings like mango and mint contain harsh chemicals like diacetyl, which causes permanent lung damage called bronchiolitis obliterans. Diacetyl is used to flavor foods and can be eaten but should never be inhaled in the lungs.  inhaling diacetyl is VERY dangerous. 

Other flavoring comes in the form of oils like glycol and vitamin E acetate, which are  found in lotions and some foods.  These oils are suspended in the e-cigarette cartridge causing you to inhale oil into your lungs, contributing to the types of pneumonia which have been deadly in several cases. Researchers believe these oils are causing lung injury.

Currently, the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as an acceptable way to stop smoking combustible cigarettes. This is another Big Tobacco marketing campaign to convince you to spend your money on products that may kill you.

E-cigarette companies and marketers are going right for your pocketbook.  They are interested in you becoming dependent on nicotine NOW (before gas stations and vape businesses are forced to stop selling them and you start to worry about where to get a hold of the finest e-juice in Kempsville) so that you have a nicotine addiction for the next 20 + years. They don’t care about you or your health. They are focused on making money and getting you to give yours to them.  They care about one thing: profiting from your vaping addiction.

You, all of you, are an incredibly smart, capable, creative and innovative generation.  Please stand up to these companies and stop allowing them to take advantage of you and your health.

Do you have a trusted adult that you can talk to about sensitive health topics? Do you know that there is help in quitting this habit? Please call or email me if you want to continue this discussion or reach out to the friends, coaches, mentors and professors in your life that can help.

Dr. Susan Strobel, assistant professor in the School of Health Sciences.